President Trump calls immigrants “gangsters” and “murderers,” and has never stopped blaming them for unemployment here. He has sent troops to the border with Mexico to stop the caravan of refugees from Honduras, El Salvador and other Central American countries, calling the caravan a “national emergency.” Immigrants have been deported and imprisoned and families separated.
And the Democrats? They are not answering the Trump anti-immigrant frenzy. While they might want a kinder and gentler ICE, they don’t fully support immigrant rights either. Under the Obama administration, more people were deported than ever before. By their actions, the Democrats have opened the door for Trump’s racist ranting.
What no corporate politician is saying is that U.S. workers and immigrant workers are on the same side in this. Corporations that profit from lowering wages of workers here profit even more from the “illegal” status of immigrants. And the super-profits they make from the most vulnerable workers emboldens them to attack all working people. Standing side by side with the migrants in a show of strong working-class solidarity will strengthen the hand of ALL workers here in our fight for jobs and dignity.
‘Immigrants grow the economy and create jobs’
Here is the truth: “The persistent belief that foreign-born workers are stealing jobs from native-born Americans is the product of a well-documented fallacy,” according to The Fiscal Times. “Study after study has shown that immigrants grow the economy, expanding demand for goods and services that the foreign-born workers and their families consume, and thereby creating jobs,” says factcheck.org. According to the CATO Institute: “Higher immigration is not associated with higher unemployment. Immigrants are heralds of growth, not portents of economic disaster. … To be clear, immigrants are not causing the unemployment rate to move up or down. The economic literature on this point is quite unambiguous: immigrants cause essentially no effect on the unemployment rate one way or another.”
Bosses lower wages, not immigrants
So many immigrants must work at humiliating shape-up jobs (standing around waiting to be called for work for the day of gardening or construction, or be sent home); they often face 60-70 hour weeks at virtual slave wages. In organizing, “illegal” workers face the constant threat of deportation and arrest. For example, domestic workers face trafficking, violence, abuse.
Farm workers and domestic workers, a great many of whom are immigrants, are not protected by basic federal labor laws. Threats of arrest, deportation, or separation from families make it hard for immigrants to get livable wages and decent conditions of work, or to organize into unions to demand their rights. Only the capitalists benefit from this. When they get away with paying undocumented workers starvation wages, it emboldens them to attack the rights of other workers.
We all want a home, food, security
The Irish came in the 1850s to escape the starvation caused by British colonialism; Germans came after the suppression of the 1848 revolution by Prussia; Jewish people came to escape murderous pogroms in Russia and Poland. Over 56 million people emigrated to the U.S. from Europe between 1950 and 1959 – a period of record economic growth.
Today’s immigrants don’t come here demanding low wages; they don’t come here demanding someone else’s job. They come there for the same reason legions of immigrants have always come here: to find a way to survive in the face of poverty and repression at home. They want the same things we all want – a place to live and have food, clothing, shelter and security for their families.
NAFTA hurt workers here and abroad
Capital moves freely between borders to the profit whims of Wall Street, but working people on both sides of the border are left with the consequences. Trump has ditched part of NAFTA, but have the wages on either side of the border gone up? Of course not. The living standards of workers in both countries is still taking beating. The only constant is the profit gotten by corporations. Trump’s racist attacks on Mexican and other Latino workers are meant to divert attention from this.
For example, the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement enabled U.S. corporations to ship their factories to Mexico and pay workers there a fraction of what U.S. workers were making, and to ship the goods back here without paying tariffs. U.S. agribusinesses took over Mexican land. This was good for big agribusiness based in the U.S. – but it was devastating to Mexican-owned agriculture and impoverished small Mexican farmers. In either case, only the needs of Wall Street profiteers were valued. The lives of neither Mexican nor U.S. workers were considered.
Immigrants flee U.S.-backed repression
Trump says to immigrants, “Go home and make your own countries great,” but Pentagon- and Wall Street-dominated globalization will not allow that. The Pentagon’s political and military support for repressive dictatorships and anti-worker governments has destabilized many countries in Latin America. U.S. sanctions have devastated the economies of Venezuela and Nicaragua, and Cuba has been blockaded by the U.S. for more than 60 years.
When Trump says ‘Make America Great Again,’ he doesn’t mean us
This is Trump’s biggest lie. When Trump says “America is winning again,” he means stock market investors, corporations and CEOs. They are winning more than ever, but we – all working and oppressed people – are losing. Wage gaps between the rich and the people whose work makes them rich are widening. The pay of CEOs is now 271 times that of the average worker; the top 0.1 percent of the population makes 198 times the income of the bottom 90 percent. The average CEO of the largest 350 companies in the U.S. received $18.9 million in compensation in 2017, up from $16 million in 2016. That’s an 18 percent raise!
For example, Last year, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook earned $21.7 million, while workers there brought home a median yearly wage of $7,017. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon earned over $22 million, while the average worker there earned about $19,000. Contrary to Trump’s claims to be making America great again, and despite the current expanding economy, the working class here faces rising housing, health care and food costs. Some 40 percent of the people in this country struggle to pay for one basic need, like food or rent.
Trump has called the working class here “the forgotten men and women of our country.” But he hasn’t forgotten how to steal from us. Like the pickpocket who distracts your attention with one hand so he can steal your wallet with the other – Trump loves to blame immigrant workers for our problems while the billionaires keep on taking. He is busy stoking racism, sexism and bigotry against LGBTQ workers while the billionaires are laughing all the way to the banks they own.
Trump’s “America” is a total fraud. The immigrants to the U.S., such as the caravan moving north in Mexico, are no different from the millions of immigrants who have come here over the many years – except they are facing ever worse repression.
Immigrants have always faced discrimination, but Trump has raised the stakes for both immigrants and workers here. When Trump uses the military to suppress the caravan from Mexico, the only ones who can benefit are the billionaires and multi-millionaires, because it diverts attention from the actual causes of low wages and unemployment. The only solution for working people is solidarity. It is solidarity between all working-class people with immigrants that Trump & Co. really fears – which has the potential to bring his anti-worker, racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ offensive to a halt.
Let’s counter Trump’s wall with our own wall – a wall of solidarity of workers millions strong to defend the rights of our migrant brothers and sisters, and our own rights as well. Abolish ICE! Let them ALL in. There are no borders in the workers’ struggle!