The Spark

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

Immigrants could make May 1 the workers holiday once again

Apr 30, 2007

A number of organizations have called for a new march of immigrants on May 1, marking the big “Day without Immigrants” of a year ago. Whatever goals those who organized last year’s demonstrations had, many of the 1.4 million people in the streets went out to express their anger at repressive laws and at the bosses who pay them very low wages for extremely hard work in unsafe circumstances.

Immigrants, who are frequently treated like second-class citizens whether or not they have legal papers, should demonstrate. And all parts of the working class should support them, joining their demonstrations. When one part of the working class is without papers, without legal rights, then all parts of the working class are more vulnerable to attack. As the old saying of the workers’ movement put it, “an injury to one is an injury to all.”

But those who demonstrate also need to see who is lurking behind the scenes, working on the bosses’ agenda.

First, of course, are all those politicians who have pushed themselves forward to speak at immigrant marches and protests, hoping to gain a few votes.

More sinister are all those people who are working to support the latest “immigration reform” bill going through Congress today. They are the ones who will try to convince immigrants that they will have gained something when it passes.

The bill sneaking through Congress is not a “reform.” It’s nothing but an attack on all those immigrants without papers – those who are already here, and those who will come in the future.

The “reform’s” biggest attack is not the wall being built on the border, nor the bill’s punitive measures. The biggest attack is the way that people would be shoveled into a “legal” status that gives them no real legal rights. In the best of cases, it would put them into a kind of indentured servitude for at least 12 years – if not much longer. Once enrolled in this new system, if they lose their job, they would be even more easily subject to expulsion than they are today. Once they apply for the papers this new reform holds out, they would be forced, even more than today, to accept whatever their boss wants from them. For all the rest, they will have only a temporary legal status, subject to expulsion whenever a boss is done with them.

So, yes, the immigrants need to march – and to keep on marching. To march in protest of this bill. To thumb their nose to all those who, while posing as their friends, are pushing through this attack. To demonstrate when the ICE raids a neighborhood or a workplace.

It’s the immigrants’ own activity that can offer them protection – and not their so-called “friends” who will try to push this “reform” on them. And wouldn’t it be a good thing if many more people come out on May 1 than the bosses and their friends expect?!