Attempts to promote an anti-immigrant hysteria continue as
reactionary politicians propose legislation attacking undocumented
workers and their families.
There are more than 12 million undocumented immigrants living in
the United States. The number of deportations has increased since
Obama came to office in January 2009. Last year set a record of
nearly 400,000 deportations, many more than during George W. Bush’s
In an effort to divide the working class as the economic crisis
drags on, many state legislatures have proposed draconian
anti-immigrant bills. For example, legislators from the states of
Indiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and South Dakota have
proposed bills that criminalize undocumented workers. It is an
assault that uses scapegoating and violence against immigrants to
serve the capitalists’ needs.
The Utah state legislature recently passed a package of
immigration bills that includes a measure similar to Arizona’s SB
1070—currently on hold due to legal challenges—allowing police
officers to check immigration status during arrests. The package also
includes a “guest worker” measure that would give undocumented
workers a permit to live and work in Utah. On April 14, Georgia
passed a law similar to SB 1070.
Many reactionary politicians are also attacking the validity of
birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution
under the 14th Amendment. It was passed after the Civil War to
overturn the Black Codes used by southern states to virtually
re-enslave freed African Americans. It was worded and designed
specifically to make citizenship and other civil rights a matter of
federal protection. It provided the legal framework for the Civil
Rights movement to overthrow Jim Crow segregation a century later.
The bigots ridiculously claim that the language of the 14th
Amendment does not apply to undocumented immigrants because they
remain “subject to the jurisdiction” of their home
countries. Wrapping their fascistic arguments in the American flag,
they insist that the intent of the 14th Amendment was only to cover
those who have sworn “allegiance” to the United States. By
definition, they say, children born to “illegal aliens” cannot
The Obama administration also stationed additional National Guard
troops along the border and has increased funding for high-tech
military equipment, including drones. Immigrants may be taking more
out-of-the-way and dangerous routes to avoid the increased military
presence. There has been a significant increase of deaths for
migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Instead of keeping his promises of comprehensive immigration
reform, Obama continues to attack undocumented workers and their
families. The administration continues to deport students as the
Senate recently rejected the Dream Act. The proposed law would have
allowed many children of undocumented workers to become citizens,
which would be especially beneficial to students struggling to attain
This May 1, International Workers’ Day, marks the fifth
anniversary of the historic nationwide immigrant workers’ strike.
On that day, millions upon millions of immigrant workers—documented
and undocumented—flooded the streets with their supporters in small
towns and large cities demanding respect for all workers.
These demonstrations constituted the largest collective protest in
U.S. history. The struggle stopped a particularly odious piece of
anti-immigrant legislation—the “Sensenbrenner” bill—in
Millions came out into the streets to fight in their own defense.
They were not brought out by the Democrats, who fear mass
mobilization, and who worked quickly to try to control the movement’s
energy. Electoral promises played a big role in subduing the
immigrant rights movement. A genuine movement fighting for real
change does not have to rely on the Democratic leadership or the
White House. The only way we can win anything is in the streets.
Only a resurgence of the immigrant rights struggle has the
potential to achieve the goals of justice and equality. No capitalist
politician—Democrat or Republican—will pass laws ensuring full
rights for all immigrants until the pressure from the movement
becomes unbearable for the ruling class. We must continue to raise
the banner of legalization and full rights for all immigrants.