A Day Without an Immigrant and the Fight for Immigrants Rights
Panel Discussion with Class Struggle Workers – Portland
4pm Sunday May 21
at Cider Riot, 807 NE Couch St. Portland OR
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-303-8278
Donald Trump has picked up the title of “deporter-in-chief” where Barack Obama left off and run with it, from his reprehensible “Muslim ban” to his disgusting plan to expand the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. An upsurge of nationalist rhetoric combined with an onslaught of deportations and anti-immigrant measures has been met with protests.
The way to fight the racist bans on refugees and shut down ICE raids is to mobilize the power of the working class. Workers have the power to shut down raids and prevent deportations by mobilizing mass demonstrations backed by strike action.
A “day without an immigrant” is the beginning of what it would take, but the attacks on immigrant workers are a threat to the rights of all of us: the multi-racial working class must use its power together, demanding full citizenship rights for all immigrants. To fight Trump, it’s necessary to break with the Democrats, Republicans, and all capitalist parties, because the Democratic Party is a party of racist American capitalism just as much as the Republicans, and immigrant-bashing is a bipartisan obsession.
Hear reports from workers who have participated in this struggle and learn why the CSWP (Class Struggle Workers – Portland) says “An injury to one is an injury to all!”
These are dark days for immigrants, Muslims and their families, while the working class as a whole is under attack. Immigrants fear the unexpected knock on the door; children worry if their parents will be home when they return from school. Rumors of raids fly, sowing panic and confusion. Muslims and other religious minorities fear attack in their homes, at their mosques and workplaces or in public by fascistic terrorists incited by Trump’s deranged rants. And while significant numbers of workers voted for Trump because of the anti-worker policies of the Democrats, the Republicans (with the support of the White House) are pushing hard for a national “right-to-work” law aimed at destroying unions.
It is urgently necessary for the power of the working class to be mobilized to stop the raids and deportations, to defend immigrants, black people and all those threatened by racist persecution, and to bust the would-be union-busters!
Since Trump inherited the formidable machinery of anti-immigrant repression constructed under the Obama administration, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has increased the number of arrests by about one third. Actual deportations have not yet reached the Democrat Obama’s record. First there was the “Muslim ban,” presently held up in the courts. Now the immigration police are ordered to go after anyone who “in the judgment of an immigration officer … pose[s] a risk to public safety or national security.” In other words, anyone who “looks” like they don’t belong in a racist’s fantasy-America. In his speech to the Congress, Trump promoted the “VOICE” initiative, a federal program designed to stir up xenophobic hatred by publishing a police blotter of crimes allegedly committed by immigrants. Then the government floated its sadistic intention to separate the children of refugees seeking asylum from their parents.
The government says that 680 immigrants were arrested in one week. One woman in El Paso, Texas was arrested by ICE at the local court house during a hearing in which she had sought protection against an abusive boyfriend. In Phoenix, Arizona, Guadalupe García de Rayos had lived and worked without papers in the U.S. for over 20 years, since she was 14 years old. She had agreed to voluntarily report to the immigration authorities twice a year in exchange for staying her deportation. But when she reported on 8 February, she was arrested. Hundreds of people, including her children, gathered at the ICE office and bravely sought to block the van that was taking her away.
In Montrose, Colorado, Bernardo Medina was kidnapped by ICE agents and imprisoned in a “detention facility.” Medina is a natural-born U.S. citizen, but ICE police told him “You don’t look like you were born in Montrose.” In Woodburn, Oregon, eleven agricultural workers on their way to the fields were taken by the ICE police on Feb. 24, with seven held in the Tacoma immigration jail and all scheduled for deportation. Muhammad Ali Jr., son of the legendary boxer, was detained and questioned for two hours about his religious beliefs at a Florida airport. Each day brings news of a new atrocity.
Locally, another case that has gained notoriety is that of Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23 year old Mexican immigrant living in Seattle who was brought to this country as a child and has no criminal record. ICE took him and his father on 10 February. He was held in the Tacoma jail until March 29 on $15,000 bail. Ramirez Medina is a “Dreamer,” whose deportation was “deferred” under Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – until now. Near-daily protests have demanded his release, along with freedom for the thou- sands of other immigrants held there. Recently, hundreds of prisoners at the ICE jail in Tacoma are taking part in a rolling hunger strike, with daily vigils and rallies by their supporters outside.
Break ICE Terror With Workers Action!
What is happening here? The government – supported by Democrats and Republicans alike – whips up racist prejudice with its obsessing over crimes by those it declares “illegal.” Of course, one could just as logically publish a blotter of violent crimes allegedly committed by white men, or left-handed Lutherans aged 30-49, or any arbitrary category: what is at work here is the logic of racism and nationalist prejudice. In fact, undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely than U.S. citizens to commit crimes, particularly violent crimes. The sadistic, cynical “VOICE” initiative is copied directly from the Nazis, whose propaganda obsessed over “criminal Jews” in order to dehumanize an entire people. Every American is under the eye of a secretive state police (Geheime Staatspolizei in German), which can kidnap those it declares “illegal” and drag them before deportation tribunals: what we call “ICE” the Nazis called the Gestapo. And why not call the network of secretive “detention centers” by their right name: concentration camps where tens of thousands languish for months with no rights to speak of.
Trump is not a fascist. Neither was “deporter-in-chief” Obama, whose immigration policies are the basis and model for Trump’s. The reason for the similarities between the ugly official racism in fascist Germany and “democratic” America is the need of the ruling capitalist class to regiment the population for war abroad and police state at home by demonizing and attacking an “enemy within.” CSWP says to our fellow workers: we must not be neutral in this war of terror being waged against our neighbors and fellow workers. This assault on the rights of all of us must be defeated, and the working class – immigrant and native-born together – has the power to defeat it.
It is all the more necessary for the labor movement to take a clear and principled stand for full citizenship rights for all immigrants because the racist war on immigrants is demagogically sold to us by Democrats and Republicans alike as if it were in the interest of “legal” workers, with the lie that “illegal” immigrants are “stealing our jobs.” Nothing could be more false! “Illegal” undocumented workers’ wages and lives are cheaper for the bosses because they are discriminated against and oppressed, because they are cut off from the rest of the working class by official and unofficial prejudice. Under capitalism, no worker’s livelihood is secure, and the only way we can defend ourselves is to stand together and prevent the bosses from pitting us against each other. Today that means what point 7 of the CSWP program says:
“Fight racist discrimination and anti-immigrant prejudice in our unions. Mobilize labor’s power to stop deportations. Full citizenship rights for all immigrants. For union action to stop I-9 and ‘no match’ firings and ICE factory raids. No to racist ‘English-only’ laws or rules.”
By all indications this May 1 (International Workers Day) will be a big “Day Without an Immigrant” protest/strike, possibly similar to the historic protests in 2006 that revived May Day in this country. In March SEIU-United Service Workers West, the California mega-local, declared that it would strike on May Day, calling for a “general strike.” But when progressive union leaders and their leftist publicists speak of a “strike” or even a “general strike,” their aim is not to shut down production but to jazz-up a class-collaborationist protest/festival, and mobilize the “base” for the Democratic Party of racism and imperialist war.
A strike is not an individual choice to take an afternoon off for a protest march, but an organized deployment of specifically working-class power that strikes at the heart of the capitalist system, its profit-making machine. Workers seeking to organize such actions will often find that the first line of opposition facing them is not a line of riot police but the leading bureaucracy of their own organizations, committed to labor “peace” and class collaboration.
The Trump regime is as fragile as it is fearsome. But the Democratic Party’s “resistance” won’t bring it down. Democrats are partner parties with the Republicans in union-busting and immigrant-bashing. They just want union and Latino votes, and a war with Russia. The key is for the workers to unite and fight for our own class interests. Protests against deportation should be backed up by solid strike action. Already immigrant workers around the country risked their jobs to boldly take part in the 16 February “Day Without Immigrants.” They must not stand alone! Workers defense guards based on the unions must be prepared to defend mosques and immigrant communities. The anti-fascist mobilization resolutions adopted by a number of local unions are a step in this direction.
Above all, we need our own party, a class-struggle workers party to lead the militant defense of our rights. Such a party can only be forged in the struggle to break the workers organizations from the bosses’ Democratic Party, and drive out the pro-capitalist bureaucracy that chains the unions to this party of racism and war. This is the mission of CSWP. Join us! ■
CSWP urges all defenders of the rights of working people and immigrants to participate in the “ICE Out of Woodburn” protest scheduled for Monday, March 20, 4:30 p.m. at 2883 Newberg Highway in Woodburn, OR. For more information visit the Facebook event page for the protest.
This article from the London Guardian gives a vivid description of the cruel terror inflicted by the ICE Gestapo on our fellow workers.
This update from Class Struggle Education Workers describes some of the efforts being made by class-struggle unionists to defend immigrants at NYC public schools and universities. It’s time for unions in the Portland area to take similar measures.
Class Struggle Workers – Portland participated in the “ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the deportation gestapo) Out of Oregon” protest on Monday. We were joined by a contingent from Painters & Drywall Finishers Local 10.
CSWP says it is urgent for the unions to take action now to defend immigrants from deportation. The Trump regime is hated and unstable, but the bipartisan attack on immigrants won’t be ended by appeals to the Democratic Party or liberal platitudes about allegedly American values (this country was founded on slavery and genocide, not democracy, love and rainbows). The multi-racial, multinational working class has the power to drive the ICE gestapo out of Portland and other cities with mass protests backed by strike action.
NYC: Class-Struggle International Workers Founded
We reprint below our translation of the declaration and program of Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas (TIC, Class-Struggle International Workers), a new organization similar to CSWP that has been founded by immigrant workers in New York City. The original Spanish text can be found here.
“Neither Illegal, nor Criminals, we are International Workers”
Presently, up to 15 million immigrant workers, along with our families, reside in the U.S. without the documents demanded of us by the bosses of this country. Lacking basic democratic rights, we take on difficult and often dangerous work for poverty wages. Truly, we are what Karl Marx called over a century and a half ago, wage-slaves.
We international workers are the scapegoats for all the evils produced by capitalist society. We are called “criminals” and “illegal aliens” when we have committed no crime. We are accused of stealing the jobs of U.S. workers, when we do the jobs no one else would want to do. We are accused of taking advantage of welfare programs, when we are not eligible for any of them. In fact, undocumented workers pay up to 50 billion dollars into Social Security every year, and we will never get back a single penny.
What’s more, many of us were forced to emigrate because our livelihood was destroyed by the free-trade agreements and cruel wars unleashed by the U.S. that beset our native lands. But we aren’t just victims. Major sectors of the U.S. economy depend on immigrant labor. We form an integral part of the working class in this country. We have the power to liberate ourselves, and all the oppressed!
Various TIC founders have participated in important social struggles, for unionization and against all forms of injustice. We have learned from our own experience that what we need, and what we must organize, is a leadership adequate to the struggle we face, that is, a class-struggle leadership.
To do our part in this great undertaking, we have decided, working alongside the Internationalist Group, to form Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas on the basis of the foregoing program:
Union Power! If we Play by the Bosses’ Rules, We’re Bound to Lose
In 2012, a group of brave workers at the Hot and Crusty bakery in Manhattan decided that they couldn’t bear their cruel exploitation any longer, and moved to unionize. After 55 days on the picket line, they won. In 2015, tired of miserable wages and dangerous working conditions, hundreds of warehouse workers at the photography equipment retailer B&H. inspired by the example of Hot and Crusty, launched their own union campaign, scoring another win. But we know that all victories in the class struggle are temporary so long as the system of production for profit remains. Unionize the unorganized! Picket lines are class lines – they mean don’t cross! For fighting unions with a class-struggle leadership! For total independence of the unions from the state!
The Bosses are Afraid of Us, Because We are not Afraid
In 1886, the International Workers Day, May 1, was established when a workers demonstration that demanded an eight-hour work-day was attacked by the police, resulting in numerous casualties and leading to the state execution of the workers leaders, the eight Chicago Martyrs. Today, 130 years later, undocumented immigrant workers suffer 12-hour days and work-weeks of 48, 56 or 72 hours, for starvation wages. We won’t take it any more! In 2006 millions of immigrant workers stopped work, reviving May Day in the U.S. We demand a drastic reduction in work hours along with a whopping raise! For day-laborers, without any job security, we fight for a union hiring hall. We need free, high-quality comprehensive and universal health insurance and health care. At the workplace we fight for union committees with the power to shut down unsafe work.
Struggle, Win, Workers to Power!
We know that every class struggle is a political struggle. In this election year 2016, the Republican candidate fans the flames of racist hate against Mexicans, Arabs and Muslims while he harasses women. The Democratic candidate wants to launch new wars in the Middle East, and is responsible for the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras. TIC opposes all capitalist parties and politicians. We who lack the right to vote call for the formation of a workers party to fight for a workers government.
We Don’t Beg, We Demand: Full Citizenship Rights!
In his 2008 electoral campaign, the liberal Democrat Barack Obama promised “immigration reform.” But eight years later we have nothing. Instead, the Obama government has deported nearly five million immigrants. The odious raids go on, and there are tens of thousands of immigrants in what are really concentration camps. We call for immigrant-worker mobilization against racist attacks, to put an end to deportations, to close the detention camps and win full citizenship rights for all immigrants.
Women’s Liberation: Duty of All Workers
March 8 is International Women’s Day, which commemorates the death of over 100 immigrant women workers in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York in 1911, which was the spark for the unionization of the garment industry. Women workers shoulder a double work day, at the job and both before and afterwards in the home, where they are burdened with the responsibility for domestic labor in the family. They are constantly hounded by sexual harassment and unequal treatment. They are even denied control over their own bodies. TIC fights for equal pay for equal work. Around the world, we fight for free abortion on demand, at the sole decision of the woman. We demand free, 24-hour child care. Along with machismo, homophobic prejudices are a weapon of the exploiting class: every class-conscious worker is duty-bound to defend the democratic rights of gays, lesbians, transgender people and all the oppressed.
Black Liberation: Key to Workers Revolution in the U.S.
In this country, founded on slavery, the oppression of black people has been fundamental to capitalist rule. We immigrants are well aware of how the ruling class seeks to use us against our black sisters and brothers. We have already seen how police murder of black people goes hand-in-hand with the targeting of all immigrants by the repressive forces. The police are the armed fist of capital, racist to the core. We demand: cops out of the unions! Against racist killings, mobilize the working class! Revolution is the only solution!
Asian, Latin, Black and White, Workers of the World Unite!
Since the time of the First Workers International, the workers of all countries have had to unite our forces to win. We defend our African, Arab and Asian sisters and brothers against racist hatred! From the Middle East to Latin America, we fight for workers action to defeat imperialist war! From China to Cuba, we oppose efforts to reestablish the rule of capital.
International workers: we have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win!
“Ni ilegales, ni criminales, somos obreros internacionales”
Hay actualmente hasta 15 millones de trabajadores internacionales junto con nuestras familias que residimos en Estados Unidos sin tener los documentos que nos exigen los dueños del país. Carecemos de derechos democráticos fundamentales mientras realizamos trabajos duros y en muchos casos peligrosos, recibiendo una miseria como pago. Somos realmente, como escribió Karl Marx hace más de siglo y medio, esclavos asalariados.
Los trabajadores internacionales somos tratados como chivos expiatorios por todos los males que produce esta sociedad capitalista. Nos dicen “criminales” e “illegal aliens” cuando no hemos cometido ningún crimen. Se nos acusa de robar los empleos de trabajadores norteamericanos cuando hacemos faenas que nadie más quiere hacer. Nos acusan de abusar de los programas sociales cuando no somos elegibles para ninguno de ellos. De hecho, los trabajadores indocumentados pagan hasta 50 mil millones de dólares al año al Seguro Social, del cual no vamos a recibir ni un centavo.
Es más, muchos de nosotros fuimos obligados a emigrar porque nuestro propio sustento fue destruido por los tratados de libre comercio y las cruentas guerras desencadenadas por EE.UU. que han acechado nuestros países. Pero no somos mereamente víctimas. Grandes sectores de la economía norteamericana dependen de la mano de obra de los migrantes. Formamos parte íntegra de la clase obrera de este país. ¡Tenemos la fuerza para ser los protagonistas de nuestra propia liberación, y la de todos los oprimidos!
Varios de nosotras y nosotros ya hemos participado en importantes luchas sociales, de sindicalización, de solidaridad y en contra de todo tipo de injusticia. Hemos aprendido de nuestra propia experiencia, que lo que precisamos, y lo que debemos formar, es una dirección a la altura de las luchas que nos incumben, es decir, una dirección de lucha clasista.
Para hacer nuestro aporte a esta gran tarea, hemos decidido, trabajando en conjunto con el Grupo Internacionalista, formar Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas sobre la base del siguiente programa:
¡Unión, fuerza, solidaridad! Jugar con reglas del patrón es segura perdición
En 2012, un grupo de valientes trabajadores de la panadería Hot and Crusty de Manhattan decidieron que no podían aguantar más la explotación despiadada y tomaron la decisión de sindicalizarse. Después de 55 días en la línea de piquete, ganaron. En 2015, cansados de salarios miserables y condiciones de trabajo peligrosas, cientos de trabajadores almacenistas de la tienda de materiales fotográficos B&H, inspirados por el ejemplo de Hot and Crusty, lanzaron su propia campaña de sindicalización logrando otro triunfo. Pero sabemos que toda victoria en la lucha de clases sólo es temporal mientras persiste el sistema de producción por la ganancia. ¡Sindicalizar a los no sindicalizados! La línea de piquete es la línea de clase – significa ¡No cruzar! ¡Luchamos por sindicatos combativos con dirección clasista! ¡Por la total independencia de los sindicatos frente al estado!
Los patrones nos tienen miedo, porque no tenemos miedo
En 1886, se estableció el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores, el Primero de Mayo, luego de una manifestación obrera que exigía la jornada laboral de 8 horas, y que sufrió un ataque policíaco que cobró varias vidas y llevó a la ejecución de los dirigentes obreros, los ocho mártires de Chicago. Hoy en día, 130 años más tarde, se suele imponer a los trabajadores inmigrantes indocumentados una jornada de 12 horas y una semana laboral de 48, 56 o hasta 72 horas semanales, por un salario de hambre. ¡No aguantamos más! En 2006 fue un paro de millones de trabajadores inmigrantes lo que reavivó el Primero de Mayo en EE.UU. Exigimos una reducción drástica de la jornada de trabajo y un enorme aumento salarial. Para las jornaleras y los jornaleros, sin ninguna estabilidad y seguridad de trabajo, luchamos por una sala sindical de contratación. Necesitamos seguro médico completo y atención médica, gratuita de alta calidad. En los lugares de trabajo luchamos por comités sindicales con el poder de parar la producción cuando hay condiciones inseguras.
¡Luchar, vencer, obreros al poder!
Sabemos que toda lucha de clase es una lucha política. En este año electoral de 2016, el candidato republicano azuza el odio racista en contra de mexicanos, árabes y musulmanes a la vez que hostiga a las mujeres. La candidata demócrata quiere lanzar nuevas guerras en Medio Oriente, y es responsable del golpe de estado de 2009 en Honduras. Los Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas nos oponemos a todo partido o político capitalista. Los que no tenemos el derecho a votar llamamos a formar un partido obrero que luche por un gobierno obrero.
¡No rogamos, exigimos, plenos derechos de ciudadanía!
En su campaña electoral de 2008, el demócrata liberal Barack Obama prometió una “reforma migratoria”. Sin embargo, ocho años más tarde no hay nada. En su lugar, el gobierno de Obama ha deportado a unos 5 millones de inmigrantes. Las odiosas redadas siguen, hay decenas de miles de inmigrantes encarcelados en lo que son verdaderos campos de concentración. Llamamos a la movilización obrera e inmigrante en contra de los ataques racistas, a poner alto a las deportaciones, a cerrar los centros de detención y lograr plenos derechos de ciudadanía para todos los inmigrantes.
Liberación de la mujer: tarea de todos los trabajadores
El 8 de marzo es del Día Internacional de la Mujer, que conmemora la muerte de más de 100 trabajadoras inmigrantes en el incendio del taller de sudor Triangle Shirtwaist en Nueva York en 1911, que fue la chispa para la sindicalización de la industria costurera. Hoy las trabajadoras cumplen una doble jornada de trabajo, tanto en sus empleos como antes y después en la casa, donde se les impone la responsabilidad de hacer las tareas domésticas de la familia. Están constantemente acosadas por el hostigamiento sexual y un trato desigual. Se les niega hasta el control sobre sus propios cuerpos. Las y los Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas exigimos: al salario igual, trabajo igual. En el mundo entero, reivindicamos el derecho al aborto libre y gratuito, a decisión exclusiva de la mujer. Exigimos guarderías gratuitas abiertas las 24 horas al día. Tal como el machismo, los prejuicios homofóbicos son un arma de la clase explotadora: es deber de todo trabajador consciente defender los derechos democráticos de gays, lesbianas, personas transgénero y todos los oprimidos.
Liberación de los negros, clave para la revolución obrera norteamericana
En este país, fundado sobre la esclavitud, la opresión de los negros ha sido fundamental para el dominio capitalista. Los inmigrantes estamos bien conscientes de cómo la clase dominante busca usarnos en contra de nuestras hermanas y hermanos afroamericanos. Ya hemos visto cómo a la par de los asesinatos policíacos de negros, todos los inmigrantes están en la mira de las fuerzas represivas. La policía es el brazo armado del capital, racista hasta la médula. Exigimos, ¡Policías fuera del movimiento sindical! ¡Contra los asesinatos racistas, movilización clasista! ¡La revolución es la única solución!
Asiáticos, latinos, negros y blancos, Obreros del mundo ¡uníos!
Desde tiempos de la Primera Internacional Obrera, los trabajadores de todos los países tenemos que unir nuestras fuerzas para ganar. ¡Defendemos a nuestros hermanos africanos, árabes, asiáticos en contra del odio racista! Del Medio Oriente a América Latina, ¡luchamos por la acción obrera para aplastar las guerras imperialistas! De China a Cuba, nos oponemos a los intentos de restablecer el dominio del capital.
Los trabajadores internacionales no tenemos nada que perder más que nuestras cadenas. ¡Tenemos un mundo que ganar!