The Spark

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

Congressional attack on immigrants begins anew

Jun 18, 2007

The Democratic leadership in the Senate agreed, once again, to try to push the latest immigration bill through for a vote. And George Bush started twisting Republican arms to get his party’s agreement.

This is the latest version of a so-called “immigration reform” that has been delayed, defeated and rewritten several times. Is this newest version any better for immigrants here without papers?

You would think it was, to judge by who is pushing for it. Some of the very people pushing for large immigrant demonstrations last year have stepped forward to say it’s what immigrants want.

Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo, a Spanish-language radio DJ, delivered a million letters supporting the bill to members of Congress. Renan “El Cucuy” Almendarez Coello, another DJ, kicked off a 10-day “Dreams of America Tour,” a cross-country caravan culminating in a lobbying effort to support the bill in Washington. The tour was organized by the Catholic Church and the Service Employees International Union, among others.

So will passing the bill help these workers in a difficult situation?

Not hardly. Lawyers for the Center for Human Rights and Law say these immigrants and their families would be “criminalized in perpetuity.”

And that’s exactly what the bill does.

This bill requires immigrants without papers to go through several steps that take many years under severe restrictions, during which they live under continual threat of deportation.

First of all, 20% or more of immigrants without papers won’t qualify. For the rest, there is delay after delay – amounting to at least 12 or 13 years before they get a full legal status. During that whole time, they need to stay employed and have the approval of their boss to have a legal status.

In other words, deportation hangs over their head if they even think about opposing their boss, going on strike, organizing a union – or simply quitting a boss who is outrageous. They will be chained to their boss in a kind of indentured slavery.

And they will have to pay large fines and fees for themselves and for every member of their family, and renew every four years – paying new fines each time. For a family, this can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.

This so-called “legal status” gives them no right to bring other family members here. The bill also includes a provision for “guest workers,” immigrants brought here temporarily only to serve the wishes of some boss who asks for them.

This bill is not in the workers’ interest – not those immigrants without papers, not those already “legalized” and not any other part of the working class.

The people who are pushing this so-called “reform” serve only the bosses’ interest. Full, immediate legal rights to every immigrant worker and their families!