The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Can’t let a wall divide us

Oct 16, 2006

On September 29, Congress passed a law to authorize the construction of 700 miles of what they call a fence – actually a wall – along the border between the U.S. and Mexico. It passed by a wide margin, with plenty of support from the Democrats. In the House, the vote was 283 to 138. It passed the Senate, 80 to 19, with the support of such liberals as Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Mikulski, Barak Obama, and Debbie Stabenow.

This wall allows the politicians at election time to have their cake and eat it too. The idea of a wall keeping out supposedly “illegal” immigrants appeals not only to outright reactionaries, but also to some workers worried about whether they might lose their jobs to undocumented immigrants.

In other words, one more time these politicians want people to believe the problem of a lack of decent jobs, or vital services like education and public health, is caused by immigration.

Of course, those who look at the fine print of the new law will see that Congress did not really vote to build the wall it advertised. Instead, much of the 1.2 billion dollars will go to other pet projects. As one Texas politician put it, “It’s one thing to authorize. It’s another thing to actually appropriate the money and do it.”

What is to be built won’t be a physical barrier, but a “virtual” wall, with expensive cameras, motion detectors etc. provided by companies like Boeing at a nice fat profit.

This law shows Congress has no intention of actually stopping or slowing the supply of undocumented immigrants. This is because the bosses want access to a workforce which is so intimidated by its undocumented status that it is afraid to even open its mouth, not to speak of fighting for a union. The bosses want these workers to know that if they fight, they risk being detained, jailed, and deported.

The more repressive the law, the more it strikes fear into the heart of workers. It is a way to remind and underline to immigrant workers that they have to be quiet and submissive if they want to stay in this country.

Of course, all workers should oppose such reactionary and bigoted laws. When the rights of one section of workers are attacked, the whole working class is undermined. When the bosses divide the working class, it gives them the opportunity to pick us off, section by section.

Workers have only one interest: to fight for all workers to have full rights, no matter where they happen to be born, no matter what the government says about their status.