From the Editors
Editor’s Note: The following article is an editorial from our sister publication, the Tribuno del Pueblo, http://www.tribunodelpueblo.org
The signing of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law (SB1070) in April, followed by the banning of ethnic studies in the state’s public schools, has unleashed a fury of controversy across the country and around the world.
Cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco have launched (or are considering) economic boycotts of Arizona. The United Nations and other international organizations have condemned the law as a violation of human rights. And on the weekend of May 29, some 40,000 people from around the country marched in Phoenix in protest.
On the other hand, several states, among them Michigan and Massachusetts, are considering similar laws, alleging that they are bearing undue financial burdens because of illegal immigration. And national polls show a majority of U.S. citizens approve of the Arizona measure.
Some proponents of the law are going even further and proposing an amendment to the U.S. constitution denying citizenship to U.S.-born children of undocumented workers.
The American news media–as well as racist and right-wing demagogues–have been temporarily successful in convincing many U.S. workers that their woes are caused by illegal immigration, even though that is not the case.
Meanwhile, both sides blame the Obama administration and are demanding that it act. Arizona governor Jan Brewer, who signed the measure into law, claims she was forced to do so because of federal inaction on immigration reform.
To date, the federal response has been unsatisfactory for both sides. While saying that the Arizona law may be unconstitutional and should not be implemented, President Obama has ordered 1,200 to 1,500 National Guard troops to the border, supposedly to protect against drug violence. And as yet, there is no administration plan for legalization.
This is happening while American workers as a whole, including Mexican and Central American immigrants, are hurting from the downturn in the economy. The good-paying jobs are gone forever. Although this has not been caused by immigrants, we ignore it at our peril.
The fate of immigrant and U.S.-born workers alike is linked by the mutual need to struggle for our daily bread. In fact, today we are driven to fight each other over crumbs, while untold wealth goes disproportionately to the rich and their corporations. And all the while, our mutual enemies–the corporations and the politicians that serve them–benefit from our disunity. NAFTA/CAFTA and the bailouts of banks and corporations have put billions in the pockets of the wealthy. But they have severely hurt both native-born and immigrant workers alike.
If U.S.-born and immigrant do not find common ground to work together, their mutual fate is bleak. Robots and electronics are replacing previously well paid jobs for the U.S. born. And poorly paid guestworker programs that separate immigrant workers from their families are the best they can look forward to.
The future is up to us. We face a common enemy. The battle today is for the heart and soul of America. We dare not lose it. If we allow ourselves to be divided along racial and ethnic lines, we will all be defeated. If we find the means to unite as a working class, a world of plenty awaits us.