A Call to Action in Defense of Immigrant Workers Rights

August 29, 2007

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The August 10 declaration by the Bush administration of a more repressive immigration policy, if put into effect, will create fascist like conditions for 12 million undocumented workers and their families.. The impact of the new policy which criminalizes the undocumented will lower living standards for working people and undermine the democracy giving a green light to greater racism, national oppression and intolerance of all kinds.

The brunt of this attack is aimed at the poorest, most powerless and socially isolated people in the nation, undocumented workers and their children. Of these, the vast majority are Latino, Asian/Pacific, Afro Caribbean, Middle Eastern and African, but they include significant numbers from all the people of the globe. The ripple effects of the new wave of repressive measures will impact immensely on large metropolitan areas and spread to every corner of the land.

Economic Impacts

The most dangerous policy is the conversion of social security system functions and employers into tools of law enforcement. Employers will be required to fire workers whose social security numbers do not match their names in the system. This will result in the firings of millions of immigrant workers as well as many citizens. Many employers will use these rules to undermine union activism. Job discrimination will grow. Workers will be pushed into jobs with lower wages and working conditions, with a ripple effect undermining working conditions generally. Working families and their neighborhoods will suffer the most. Individual businesses will suffer but giant financial firms and investors will profit from lower wage rates. The integrity of the social Security System which draws from, and benefits, the largest number of our people will be compromised by punitive policies

Machinery of Repression

The new Bush policy comes on top of twice as many raids and deportations since the mega-marches. I t includes increased militarization of the border, with Boeing and Halliburton corporations receiving huge contracts for surveillance and detention systems. Stepped up deportations and other sanctions stripped of basic due process, court review, and civil rights will have a terrorizing effect on the millions in danger of deportation, their families, communities and workplaces. Local police agencies are being drawn into immigration enforcement to increase the repression and abuse. The crackdown also gives the green light to greater anti immigrant state and local initiatives. Stricter policies of naturalization and tougher regulations for permanent residents extend the crackdown further into the immigrant community and the broader populace including the labor movement.

Political Purposes

The Bush administrations timing of the crackdown came when the Democratic-led Congress had just started a recess and while the 2008 Presidential candidates began focusing on the January primaries. It signaled that right wing Republicans had united in making immigration their key wedge issue in the 2008 election cycle. Law and order and national security is the cover for
scapegoating the powerless, blaming and criminalizing the victims.

The special arrest tactics and expedited deportation of immigrant rights advocate Elvira Arellano is in line with the heavy handed playing up to the worst anti immigrant elements as a means of consolidating the Republican base. The rabid radical right wing anti immigrant movement is now a mainstream of the Republican political program. What the Minutemen say one day is repeated by Republican Congressmen the next. The unjust, unwinnable war in Iraq, falling living standards, economic instability, increasing inequality, crises at the state and city level and other national ills make for a dismal prospect for Republican candidates. Hysteria against immigrants is the main tool they are using to deepen the wedges that have won for them in the past.

Complicit Media Defamation.

This anti immigrant offensive is bolstered by an incredibly blatant and vicious campaign in the mass media which influences all sectors of our society. It is spearheaded by TV and radio programs such as the Lou Dobbs hour on CNN and innumerable right wing talk shows and publications, blogs and websites. Academic apologists, corporate backed think tanks, right wing pundits, and Republican Presidential debaters fill the airwaves, newsprint and virtual space with
misinformation, disinformation and hostility directed at the immigrants and their supporters. The mass media gives credence to right wing spokespeople including some Latino and African Americans with little base except their right wing sponsors. The Spanish language media and local media where there are established immigrant communities are much more balanced. The mega corporate media have given the right wing the intiatiive on this issue which with the full force of executive power creates a crisis not only for the persecuted immigrants, but our nation as a whole.

United We Stand Divided We Fall

Our nation is on the threshold of a dramatic shift in a progressive direction. The mega corporate interests behind the Bush/Rove right wing realignment will not surrender the profitable prerogatives they have gained with the Bush foreign and domestic agendas . Only a determined and united alignment of democratic forces, starting with the labor movement, African American, Latino and other oppressed groups, women, youth, peace, civil liberties and immigrant rights organizations can move our country forward by decisively defeating the right wing in the 2008 elections.

The right wing created anti immigrant crisis is a dangerous threat to the unity of these forces. The
destablization of the immigrant community with punitive policies cannot be allowed to discourage the immigrants rights movement and its allies. Greater solidarity, consciousness raising , and inclusion of immigrant rights in the priorities and actions of the democratic forces on humane and common political grounds are necessary to preserve democracy.
Elvira and Saul Arellano have selflessly challenged our nation to respond concretely to the crisis being enforced on the undocumented immigrants and their families. In response to the crackdown of the Bush Administration she came totally out of the shadows to call for continued struggle in congress to halt and reverse the policy of criminalization. She is right. The struggle for justice must be unrelenting, the right wing initiative must be stood up to in Congress.

Effort is needed to fight the no-match letters and other repressive measures on an emergency basis as well as fighting for interim legalization measures to protect immigrants. Such an emergency program can open up greater unity to defend immigrants in this crisis and help unify and deepen the growing efforts to decisively defeat the ultra-right in the coming elections. Such a victory will open the way for just comprehensive immigration reform including legalization with a path to citizenship for all immigrant workers, family reunification, due process, and greater support for the integration of immigrants and their families into all aspects of society. It will also lead to the creation of a political climate for changes in foreign and trade policies that deepen global economic inequalities and fuel mass migration of hundreds of millions of workers to better provide for their families worldwide.

An injury to one is an injury to all!


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