US: Massive numbers of immigrants step out of the shadows and into the streets-3 April 2006

April 9th, 2006

Following are excerpts from various articles in the 2 and 9 April issues of Revolution, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (www.recom.us)

A great upsurge is taking place across the United States! Hundreds of thousands of immigrants are stepping out of the shadows, into the sun. In Chicago, up to a half million filled Daley Plaza, shutting down the city, chanting “¡Se siente, se siente, el inmigrante está presente!” (The immigrants are here, you can feel it!) In Milwaukee, home of Congressman Sensenbrenner, author of the cruel bill that set off the protests, 25,000 marched. Tens of thousands went into the streets in Washington, DC. In Phoenix, over 20,000 demonstrators marched to the office of Republican Senator Jon Kyl, co-sponsor of a bill that would give illegal immigrants up to five years to leave the country. In Georgia, tens of thousands of immigrants stayed away from work in protest against a new state law there that would deny state services to adults living in the U.S. illegally and impose a 5 percent surcharge on wire transfers from illegal immigrants. As we go to press, students have walked out of schools throughout Southern California, and hundreds of thousands are filling the streets of Los Angeles. [Half a million people ended up filling the streets of central Los Angeles that day. The following week saw similar protests in many regions of the country, including conservative “American heartland” places like Oklahoma City. More than 10,000 people, mainly immigrants, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan behind a banner reading, “We are not illegal!”]
People widely know about – and hate – the Sensenbrenner bill passed by the House of Representatives in December. Pushed by fascist anti-immigrant Tom Tancredo and others, it would, among other things, immediately criminalize millions of people by declaring it a felony just to be in this country without “proper papers” – and to provide any help to these people. The House bill also calls for further leaps in border militarization, including a 1,200-kilometre-long wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and it refuses to consider any possibility for undocumented immigrants to get legal status.

In early March, the Senate Judiciary Committee began discussions on a [competing versions] of an immigration bill. If the Senate passes a bill, it will then need to be “reconciled” with the House version into a unified bill that goes to the president for signing into law. Such a law – whatever its final shape – will bring on major changes in the situation of immigrants, and this could happen in the coming few weeks or months. (2 April 2006.)
Immigrants Struggle: Big Changes and Big Lessons

There is a fresh and powerful spring wind blowing across America! Thousands – no, millions! – have hit the streets, defiantly demanding justice for undocumented immigrants. This struggle should not only be supported, but pushed forward. And as we intensify this battle, we should keep in mind some of its key lessons so far.

1) The mass upsurge of the immigrants has changed the political landscape. It has inspired millions and opened the minds of tens of millions more. The politicians in Congress plan to drastically intensify the persecution and exploitation of the 10 to 20 million undocumented immigrants in this country. But instead of just shrugging their shoulders, the people have risen up in resistance, at great personal risk. This heroic spirit can be seen in the student walkouts, and should be cherished and spread.
And there is a great lesson here for the tens of millions in this country who sit there angry but paralysed as one basic right after another is taken away by the system, in particular by the Bush Regime that is now running things. Don’t wait for elections – break out of the framework NOW. Stand up and fight, no matter what the odds!

2) The bill now being supported by most [Senate] Democrats and some Republicans, like McCain and Specter, is a trap. It does not satisfy people’s most basic demands, and will actually put the masses of immigrant workers – and immigrants more generally – in a much more vulnerable position than they are now. The great mass upsurge must not be channelled into supporting this deceitful and destructive bill, but must persevere in insisting on full rights for undocumented immigrants, the halt to and reversal of the militarisation of the border, and an immediate end to the persecution of immigrants.

3) The 10 to 20 million undocumented immigrants have been driven into this country by the heartless workings of capitalism and imperialism. Take Mexico, for example, where U.S. capital has transformed Mexican agriculture and driven 1.5 million farmers off the land since the 1994 NAFTA agreement. This same sort of thing has gone on all over the world, with over 200 million people driven out of the countrysides of the oppressed nations and forced to seek work in the cities of the imperialist countries of the U.S., Europe and Japan. Hundreds of people die crossing just the Mexico-U.S. border every year because of the desperation caused by imperialism. Imperialism drives people from their lands, persecutes and even murders them as they cross the border, and then super-exploits and demonizes them once they are in the imperialist countries. This system must go!

4) There is nothing at all worth respecting about the U.S.-Mexican border! It was created by an unprovoked U.S. war against Mexico in the 1840s, a war that was waged to rob huge amounts of land to extend the slave system (which had been outlawed in Mexico) and, more generally, to expand U.S. capitalism. Any concessions to this idea that “the border must be defended” denies this reality, and ends up playing by the enemy’s rules.

5) The imperialist rulers are pushing these vicious “reforms” for two main inter-connected reasons. First, they are driven by worldwide dog-eat-dog competition to more systematically exploit and more viciously repress the tens of millions of immigrant workers within this country. Second, they are driven by the big social and economic changes in American society to hammer down a fascist social order. And to do that they aim to reinforce in the minds of tens of millions of middle-class and working-class people the idea that America should be a white, Christian, highly militarized country – and that this will somehow deal with the insecurity, desperation and despair in their lives. And there is a particular effort directed at Black people: to mislead the Black masses into blaming their terrible and oppressive conditions, which have been caused and enforced by imperialism, on people with whom they share a similar situation of being oppressed nationalities within America and of being overwhelmingly proletarian.

But there is every basis to go to tens of millions of people with the “real deal” – to show them where their real interests lie, which is in fighting against the very system that so badly oppresses them and then tries to mislead them as to the source of that oppression. By continuing militant and united action, and by bringing out the real truth in thousands of ways as we do so, we can change the political “polarization” into one much more favourable to the people.

6) This whole situation – the tens of millions of people driven off their lands into a life of desperately seeking work, even at the risk of death; the ways in which the fears of millions of native-born people are being manipulated; the divisions that are fanned and enforced between nationalities, even among oppressed nationalities – all these are products of capitalism. But even more importantly, all this can be overcome by a socialist revolution. Such a revolution must be led by the proletariat – the class of people who own only their ability to work and have nothing to lose but their chains – and must result in a whole new state power that builds on the achievements of past proletarian revolutions, and goes further, unleashing a vibrant and lively socialist society. The undocumented workers who are now being demonized in the media and by the politicians are a potentially important part of the class that can carry out this revolution, institute this new state power, and bring about a far better future… (9 April)
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