The following statement was released Aug. 15 by Margaret Trowe, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. Senate from New York. Trowe lives in Albany, where she works for Walmart.
There are 11 million immigrant workers without visas, work permits or other papers recognized by the government living in the U.S. today. They are here firstly because the colonial exploitation and wars by Washington and other imperialist powers made productive and safe lives difficult at home. They are also drawn here because the capitalist class absolutely needs immigrant labor to produce and compete for markets against its rivals around the world and to drive down the wages of U.S.-born workers.
No matter who happens to be sitting in the White House — whether it’s a Bush, a Clinton, an Obama or a Trump — the capitalist class has no intention of deporting all or even most immigrant workers. The boss class wants them here, but forced to live in fear of deportation so that they don’t organize, join unions and demand better wages and working conditions. The bosses also benefit because they use the second-class status imposed on workers without papers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers.
Less than 7 percent of workers at private companies are in unions. The bosses have succeeded in driving down our wages and undermining pensions, health care and job safety. This anti-worker offensive continues despite the explosion in hiring today.
Key to their success is the entrenched union bureaucracy, which imposes class-collaborationist policies on workers, both on the shop floor and in support of the capitalist rulers’ state and its policies at home and abroad.
It’s not possible to fight the bosses and win if we’re divided. The labor movement needs to explain, “We don’t care what papers you have or don’t. We demand amnesty for all immigrant workers in the country. And we invite you to join the union.”
This is a life-and-death question for the working class. When the inevitable economic downturn comes, the bosses ramp up their efforts to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment along with prejudices among immigrants against Blacks and other U.S.-born workers. The fight for amnesty is a fight for the soul of the working class.
The liberal press claims workers are more reactionary, racist and anti-immigrant today. This is how they explain the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
But many workers without papers have lived here for decades. We work side by side in factories and other workplaces. We live in the same working-class neighborhoods. Our kids go to the same schools.
In fact, anti-immigrant sentiments are lower among workers today than ever. That was shown by the response by working people in the rural town of O’Neill, Nebraska, who organized rapid protests against immigration cops who were in the midst of raiding several factories and ranches in the area and extended solidarity to their families.
The Socialist Workers Party says, “Join the fight for amnesty!”