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El Militante
Legalize all immigrants now! Stop the raids and deportations!
Statement by Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate
Acquittal of N.Y. cops who killed Sean Bell sparks protests
California students protest move to deport Vietnamese
Truckers rally in Washington against fuel costs
Strong start to ‘Militant’ sub target week
‘More people are standing up to say: Enough!’
Flor Crisóstomo presses fight against U.S. gov’t effort to deport her
Record of Militant Fightning Fund
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 72/No. 19      May 12, 2008


Click here for Militant Labor Forums

Legalize all immigrants now!
Stop the raids and deportations!
Statement by Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate
(lead article)

Militant/Lea Sherman

Students across California held protests April 23 against U.S. government moves to deport Vietnamese immigrants. Above, protest at the University of California in Davis.

The following statement was issued April 29 by Róger Calero, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for president of the United States.

I am proud to be joining tens of thousands of my fellow workers marching on May 1 to demand, “Legalization now!” and “Stop the raids and deportations!”

I am marching in Los Angeles, where workers from the Micro Solutions plant in Van Nuys, California, are one of the lead contingents. The plant was raided by the hated immigration police in February. Since then, 138 of them have been fighting the U.S. government’s effort to deport them.

Many of these workers have been forced to wear heavy tracking bracelets on their ankles so the police can monitor their activities. In recent weeks an immigration judge slapped a curfew on them to try to foil their organizing efforts.

In spite of this they continue to fight publicly. “We are workers, not criminals”—one of the popular slogans of this movement—is exactly what these workers are showing their class brothers and sisters by standing up and fighting this injustice.

The Van Nuys workers are part of an emerging vanguard in the U.S. working class. They show that the only way to respond to the terror tactics of the employers is to reach out for solidarity and fight them.

My running mate, Alyson Kennedy, is marching in Chicago, where the mobilization of hundreds of thousands the last two years in that city has made the march there one of the most broadly sponsored May Day actions in the country.

A group of sheet metal workers from the Wheatland Tube factory outside Chicago, who are fighting the bosses’ attempt to fire many of them over Social Security “no-match” letters, are among the vanguard workers marching in that city.

Struggles like these are putting their stamp on May Day. They show why the battle for legalization is not just a struggle for immigrants. “Legalization now!” is a banner that must be raised by the entire labor movement.

The bosses are pushing for workers to absorb the brunt of the unfolding economic crisis. They are driving down wages, gutting benefits, speeding up production, and stretching out the work day, work week, and the working life of our class. Their profits depend on keeping a pool of immigrant labor in second-class status. They use this reserve army to drive down wages. When workers fight back, the employers and their government turn to the weapons of the immigration raids, the “no-match” letters, and racist campaigns.

The bosses hope that as joblessness rises, we will stay divided and weak and blame fellow workers—not the bosses and their system.

But when workers decide to fight, the rulers’ tactics backfire.

A recent example of this is the fight by workers at Dakota Premium Foods. As a worker at that St. Paul slaughterhouse in 2000, I joined the successful campaign to organize a union there.

In January the company tried to win a vote to decertify the union. In the months leading up to the vote the bosses shifted their hiring practices. They began hiring many native-born workers, including workers who are Black, Native American, and white. They also hired many who are on court probation. They assumed that these new hires wouldn’t join with the largely Latino workforce to fight for the union.

But the bosses underestimated us. The workers fought and they won many of the new hires to the side of the union. They defeated the decertification drive, and are now fighting for a decent contract.

Last week a New York judge let the cops who killed Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets go free without so much as a slap on the wrist. In New York, contingents of immigrant street vendors who face daily cop harassment joined the protests against this outrage. Others encouraged those fighting for justice for Sean Bell to join the May Day rally too.

Through these struggles we can see the road towards the transformation of the unions into fighting instruments. On that basis the working class can forge a labor party. A party that will take workers’ struggles into the political arena and challenge the twin parties of the ruling class—the Democrats and Republicans.

By standing together this May Day we are taking a step along this road. Legalization now!
Related articles:
California students protest move to deport Vietnamese
Restaurant workers in UK protest raids, deportations
YS builds May Day actions on campuses, at protests
‘More people are standing up to say: Enough!’
Flor Crisóstomo presses fight against U.S. gov’t effort to deport her

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