The ruling class retaliated by stepping up raids, deportations, and other attacks on immigrants. Despite the bosses attempts at intimidation, nearly half a million demonstrated for immigrant rights in cities and towns across the country on May Day a year later.
This year, organizing for May Day actions is already under way in Chicago; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Washington, D.C. These protests are demanding legalization and an end to raids and deportations. Students are getting involved in the actions, as shown by our report from Seattle this week on the activities of Latino groups on campuses in Washington state.
The fight to win legalization for all undocumented immigrants is a life-and-death question for the entire labor movement. Employers bring in immigrant workers to try to push down wages and conditions for all workers. They want a layer of the working class permanently vulnerable to deportation, who will keep their heads down in face of abuse and who, the bosses hope, will be too afraid to join union struggles.
But the opposite has happened in one case after another. Immigrant workers have been in the front ranks of some of the most important union struggles in recent years. Immigrant coal miners from Mexico were in the forefront of a 2003-2006 battle to win a local of the United Mine Workers of America at the Co-Op mine outside Huntington, Utah. Earlier this year, at the Dakota Premium Foods slaughterhouse in South St. Paul, Minnesota, immigrant workers and native-born workers overcame employer-fostered divisions and defeated a company effort to decertify their union.
Nevertheless, the divisions between native- and foreign-born workers remains one of the potent weapons the bosses have to undermine working-class solidarity.
The labor movement must take an unambiguous stand on this political question, Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Róger Calero has said. Especially as the economic crisis unfolds, and real wages fall while the death toll of the bosses productivity drive continues to climb. The only way we can combat this is to organize and use union power. The unions need to throw their weight behind the struggle for legalization so that employers can no longer use immigration laws to intimidate, fire, or get rid of union activists.
We urge you to start now to work with your union, campus group, or community organization to sponsor events that can build May Day actions for legalization in your area. Encourage your coworkers, fellow students, neighbors, and others you know to attend the marches. Promote the demonstrations on campuses, in Black communities, in your union local, and at political events. Start planning now to march on May 1. All out to stop the raids and deportations! Immediate legalization without conditions now!
Seattle: workers, students plan May Day march