Strike Against Deportations!
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!”
For Worker/Immigrant Mobilization to Stop Deportations!
From Bridge City Militant No. 4 (Spring 2017)
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!
New York, 12 August 2016 ■