On June 15, President Obama announced he would use his discretionary power to stop the deportation of undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children.
This is only a temporary exemption. It could be revoked at any time, and these youth will be forced to register with Homeland Security every two years, at which time their residency could be denied.
But it did bring a sigh of relief among many Latinos, particularly the youth.
For the last few years, the Latino youth, the Dreamers, have been waging a brave battle for immigration reform. Under the banner, “Undocumented and Unafraid,” they have engaged in civil disobedience, participated in hunger strikes, and led marches.
No one can deny that it has been the Latino youth, with their energy and courage, that has kept the movement for immigration reform going. But why did the President choose now to stop the deportation?
The Obama administration has detained and deported the highest number of immigrants of any other administration in U.S. history. After so many dreams deferred, Obama with a stroke of a pen is doing what he could have done in the first 100 days of his administration.
Obama’s latest action can’t help but leave a bittersweet taste in people’s mouths. It shows the blatant political corruption of American politics and its two-party system. Either party could have made this decision at any time during their administration. But they chose not to—until it was most useful for the class interests they represent—and not a moment sooner.
While the immediate reason for President Obama’s maneuver was to get the 20 million Latino votes tightly secured to the Democratic Party, that is not the main reason he moved now. Obama is in serious trouble, and his actions have to be seen within today’s economic and political context.
Hunger, poverty, and permanent unemployment are growing. The capitalists must keep the means of production (which could easily feed, clothe, house and educate everyone) in private hands. Their growing replacement of workers with robots is creating social instability which threatens their control.
Obama’s new immigration policy is part of the ruling-class strategy to attempt to stabilize things politically.
Many people recognize that this new immigration policy does not go far enough. But it also sets a dangerous precedent. It lays the basis for a sector of the working class to become hostages of the government.
The young Latinos who will have to register with the Department of Homeland Security every two years will be very vulnerable. They will be at the mercy of the authorities. That could hamper their ability to engage in social struggle.
The workers of this country cannot allow this or any sector of the working class to be held hostage. It will open a flank from which the ruling class can attack the rights of all workers.
Instead, every one of us must keep organizing and pushing for the legalization of all undocumented workers—while, at the same time we wage the fight for a new society in which no human being will be labeled illegal.
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Arlington West every Sunday in Santa Monica. Veterans for Peace put up crosses, stars, and cresents representing 6,400
U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo/Margaret Molloy
By Marshall Blesofsky
In May in Chicago, US veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars hand-in-hand with Afghans for Peace, made history leading a march of thousands against NATO, then returning their Global War on Terror medals to NATO's generals.
In early June, Army Specialist Ethan McCord toured southern California to bring a message to high school students about the reality of war. McCord is the Hero of Wikileaks video “Collateral Murder” and Academy Award Nominated short film “Incident in New Baghdad” The tour was sponsored by a coalition of Peace groups including the Long Beach Recruitment Awareness Project, Military Families Speak Out, San Pedro Neighbors for Peace and Justice, three chapters of Veterans for Peace and Long Beach Area Peace Network.
One of the first soldiers on the scene after an Apache helicopter fired upon innocent civilians and Reuters photographers, Ethan McCord saved the lives of two children wounded in the helicopter attack.
Spc. McCord spoke at nine schools, speaking to over 2000 students. He said the “most common things I hear from new recruits is ‘my recruiter lied to me.” While on tour he touched many lives and many students reported that they had thought of joining the military before his presentation and are now going to take a different path.
At Arlington West at the Santa Monica Pier, Veterans for Peace and their supporters laid out a grave yard as a memorial to the more than 6500 American service people who have sacrificed their lives. From personal experience, McCord talked about the effect of war on soldiers. “We have 18 veterans killing themselves per day. We are not killing ourselves because we are doing great things for God and country. We are killing ourselves because we are asked to commit atrocities and nobody is stopping it.”
Ethan McCord is part of a growing peace movement made up of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and a growing movement of resistance within the US military.
There are reasons why this constant state of war exists and nobody is stopping it. War is necessary for the US corporations who control our government to dominate markets and resources around the world. The peace movement and the movement for economic justice need to unify and work to educate the American people that the militarization of our country is also literally killing us as well as innocent civilians in foreign lands.
When your prayers for mercy fall on deaf ears,
When the agony is so intense you can shed no tears,
When your face shows your age well beyond your own years,
That’s when you’ll be
When sleep is the enemy, afraid of what you’ll awaken to be,
When leaving your home seems to be a harrowing feat,
When images of dead innocents seems to be all that you see,
That’s when you’ll be.
When the lies you once believed poison any chance for a new start,
When the anger is so unbearable it feels like your mind’s being ripped apart,
When your family fears to and chooses to closely guard their hearts,
That’s when you’ll be.
When your only chance at survival relies on people who shoot blank stares,
When the proscriptions that help you sleep at night only increase the nightmares,
When it seems you’re all you have and even you have lost the self care,
That’s when you’ll be.
When you’re shaking hands and voice sometimes make words not quite come out,
When you reach for a hand gun or a knife whenever you hear any odd noise in your house,
When the hand gun becomes the prescription and you place it in your mouth,
That’s when you’ll be, like me.
Matt Sedillo, poet, author, visionary
Matt Sedillo is a two-time national slam poet, grand slam champion of the Damn Slam Los Angeles 2011 and author of "For What I Might Do Tomorrow." Born in California, he writes from the vantage point of a second generation Chicano born in an era of diminishing opportunities and a crumbling economy. His writing, a fearless, challenging and at times even confrontational blend of humor, history and political theory is a reflection of those realities. The poetry of Matt Sedillo is a sobering call for the fundamental restructuring of society in the interest of people not profits. It is a clarion call for all those who know a new world is not only possible but inevitable. If you would like to bring Matt Sedillo to your city to speak, contact Speakers for a New America at 800-691-6888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.