Workers and youth are demonstrating in cities across the US on May 1, International Labor Day, in opposition to the anti-immigrant bill signed into law in Arizona on April 23. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) welcomes these demonstrations and calls for the building of a mass, international movement of the working class in defense of democratic rights.
Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070 is an anti-democratic and racist law. It obligates police to apprehend any person under the mere “reasonable suspicion” that they could be undocumented immigrants. Those found without sanctioned photo identification can be arrested, imprisoned and deported. The law makes it a crime to shelter undocumented workers and requires local governments to enforce its measures.
Though extreme, the Arizona law is no aberration. A number of cities and states have passed or are considering laws that target undocumented workers—and even their US-born children, who, according to the Constitution, are entitled to full citizenship. Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter recently told a town hall meeting in San Diego that he favors the deportation of the US-born children of undocumented immigrants.
Similar attacks on immigrants are taking place all over the world. European governments have ordered raids on immigrant encampments, built up mass prisons, and militarized the Mediterranean Sea. They have scapegoated their Muslim populations, with France pushing for a total ban of the wearing of the burqa, or full-face veil, in public.
These measures pose a direct threat to the entire working class, not just immigrants. The repressive apparatus of the state will be used to target all opposition to the policies of the corporations and the wealthy.
A stark warning must be given: The Obama administration and its liberal allies, including many who will be speaking at the May 1 rallies, are using the Arizona law to push their own anti-immigrant and anti-working class agenda.
Obama is supporting a proposal advanced in March by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York. The bill demands an increased militarization of the Mexican border. In a bid to win further Republican support, two leading Democratic Senators, Harry Reid of Nevada and Bob Menendez of New Jersey, on Thursday joined with Schumer to circulate a proposal that would advance “border security benchmarks” as the first step in a broader assault on immigrants.
There are already 20,000 border police—equivalent to a large Army division—along the US-Mexico border, in addition to fences, walls, aircraft and monitoring equipment. The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will soon deploy Predator drones to hunt down immigrants—the same unmanned airplanes the US military uses to execute alleged “insurgents” in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Schumer-Graham bill would also criminalize undocumented immigrants who seek legal residency, requiring they admit they broke the law, perform community service and pay massive fines and back taxes. They would also have to be proficient in English before going to the “back of the line” of prospective immigrants.
The centerpiece of this plan is the creation of an internal passport regime requiring all US citizens and legal immigrants to carry new, biometric Social Security cards. These national ID cards would provide the government with a powerful new tool to monitor and discipline all workers, regardless of their race or nationality.
The working class cannot allow itself to be duped into supporting this right-wing agenda. It must advance its own independent program and perspective.
The Socialist Equality Party puts forward the following demands:
• For the international unity of the working class! For open borders!
Under conditions of mass unemployment and continued economic crisis, ruling circles hope to divide workers, pitting one against the other. However, the attacks on jobs, living standards and social benefits are the fault not of the immigrants, but of a global crisis of the capitalist system—an economic system that is defended by all those who try to turn undocumented workers into scapegoats.
Workers of all nationalities and ethnicities have the same interests and are exploited by the same corporations. The working class can wage a successful struggle only if it is organized on an international basis to confront globally mobile capital.
Against the attack on immigrant rights, the SEP calls for full citizenship for workers wherever they choose to live, including for all undocumented residents presently in the US.
• For a multi-billion-dollar public works program! Nationalize the banks and major corporations!
Behind the bullying of immigrant populations is the claim that there are simply not enough resources for all to have jobs and access to a decent life. This is a lie. After bailing out the banks—ensuring record pay for top Wall Street executives—Obama is now demanding cuts in social programs while rejecting any government jobs program.
The vast personal fortunes of the wealthy elite, accumulated through exploitation and fraud, must be seized. The finance industry must be converted into a democratically controlled public utility. This will free up trillions of dollars for a massive public works program to provide quality jobs for everyone.
• For a socialist party of the working class! Break with the Democrats and Republicans!
Both the Democratic and Republican parties defend the capitalist system. The capitalist solution to the deepening economic crisis involves the perpetuation of mass unemployment and poverty and growing national conflict and war.
Mass opposition is growing. To defend its interests, however, the working class needs its own party that fights for the socialist transformation of economic life. The forces of production, the giant banks and corporations, must be publicly owned and democratically controlled in the interests of social need, not private profit.
This is the perspective of the Socialist Equality Party. We call on all those participating in the May 1 demonstrations, and all workers and young people throughout the world, to read the World Socialist Web Site, join the Socialist Equality Party and take up the fight for socialism.