The Spark

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

Immigration bill takes us back 350 years

May 14, 2007

Since March, several Republican and Democratic Senators, along with representatives of the Bush administration, have been meeting almost every day behind closed doors to come up with a new immigration bill. Leaders of both parties are eager to pass a law as quickly as possible – they don’t want immigration to become an issue in the 2008 election campaign the way it was in 2006.

These politicians say they want to help honest, hard-working immigrants by giving them the opportunity to become citizens.

What a shameless lie! The proposed law is nothing but an attack on immigrant workers, and a quick glance at what has been leaked about the bill proves it.

To be able to work in the U.S. legally, undocumented immigrants would have to register and pay fines – which can amount to thousands of dollars. They would have to work in the U.S. for the following eight years to become eligible for permanent residency.

Eight years – that’s a long time, at the mercy of a boss, who at any time can fire an immigrant worker, ruining his or her chances of becoming a legal resident!

That would be a rotten enough deal already – but, that’s only the beginning.

For those who somehow have been able to overcome all the hurdles, here’s the last blow: they will have to go to the end of the line, behind the millions of people who have applied for U.S. citizenship in their countries, and will be granted citizenship based only on whatever quota the U.S. happens to have for their country!

In short, many, if not most of them, will end up working in the U.S. for their whole lives without full legal rights.

This is exactly why there is such a concerted, bipartisan effort behind this so-called “immigration reform.” Big Business wants “legal” immigration – that is, low-wage workers who are legal for bosses to hire, but who don’t have legal rights which they could use to try to improve their wages and working conditions.

This bill would treat today’s immigrant workers like those immigrants of three centuries ago: indentured slaves. Brought from Europe and forced to work for many years to pay off the huge sums they supposedly owed for the transport to the “New World,” most of them never saw the promised freedom because their indentures kept being extended under all kinds of pretenses.

Any law that legalizes the existence of one class of workers with fewer rights than others goes against the interests of all workers, because it makes it easier for bosses to lower everyone’s wages. All workers have to fight for full legal rights for everyone who works in this country – whether they had the permission of the bosses’ government to cross the border or not.