For workers’ solidarity, amnesty for immigrants!

April 8, 2024

The news is full of clashes over immigration policy between capitalist presidential candidates Joseph Biden, Donald Trump and now Robert Kennedy Jr. These conflicts obscure the fact that the fundamental division on this question is between the two contending classes, the bosses and the working class.

Intensifying competition between workers is key to the capitalists’ drive to profit off our backs. The political struggle to overcome anti-immigrant prejudice and other divisions the rulers foster is crucial to uniting the working class and building a powerful union movement. It’s inseparable from fighting the decline in real wages and deteriorating conditions of life and work workers face.

The class approach of the bosses and their Democratic, Republican and “independent” candidates is simple — to regulate the flow of immigrants to fit the employers’ needs and to condemn workers without proper papers to a superexploited pariah status. They seek a permanent layer of the working class that fears being thrown out of the country and they hope will accept worse conditions. This then is used to drag down the conditions of all workers.

This means encouraging large numbers of workers abroad to cross the border in hopes of filling the jobs the uptick in the economy offers today. This is why net immigration rose last year to 3.3 million, compared to under a million yearly in the 2010s.

The scapegoating of immigrants is one of the biggest weapons the ruling class and all their parties use to try to divide and weaken us. The ranting against immigrants by some politicians facilitates this. Competition among workers to sell our labor power is inevitable under capitalism. Bosses then appeal to resentment to try to pit workers against one another. Building unions that can defend all workers requires exposing and defeating the rulers’ attempts to blame immigrants for lower wages and competition for jobs and housing.

For unions, fighting to defend immigrant workers is a life and death question. Rachele Fruit, Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president, presents a clear working-class road forward.

She says that “workers solidarity can overcome the ways the capitalists divide us for profit by fighting to end two-tier contracts, life-sucking ‘suicide’ schedules and women’s second-class status. Amnesty for immigrant workers in the U.S. would allow them the right to work without fear of deportation and open the door to unifying the working class. Organize all workers!”

Every worker in the U.S. deserves a job, she says. The SWP calls for a government-funded program of public works to create millions of union-scale jobs to build housing, child care centers, hospitals and other things working people need.

She calls for building a labor party, based on the unions, to lead the fight for our class interests and speak for all the exploited and oppressed by capital.

Fruit points to the capacities demonstrated by workers in historic struggles, from the battles that forged unions in the 1930s to the mighty class battles that overturned Jim Crow segregation. “Our class has never been in a stronger position to join hands and to fight all attempts by the bosses and their parties to divide us, and to take on the war, exploitation and oppression that mark our epoch — the capitalist system itself. We can rise to the task imposed on us by history.”