The Internationalist  
May 2010  

Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants!

Mobilize Workers Against Racist
Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law!

Internationalist contingent at New York City May Day march from Union Square, 1 May 2010.
(Internationalist photo)

Democrats’ “Concept” of Immigration “Reform”: A Police State

The passage of a spectacularly racist immigration law by the Arizona state senate on April 19, and its signing into law by the governor four days later, has provoked a wave of justified outrage across the United States and internationally. Senate Bill 1070 authorizes police to stop people on the street to demand that they produce documents to prove their immigration status. Despite the pious claims by the racist politicians to the contrary, this means blatant “racial profiling” by the cops. In Arizona, anyone who “looks Mexican” is now subject to arrest. The clause in SB 1070 saying police “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” (our emphasis) means that those racist criteria can be a legitimate basis for stopping someone on the street. The Internationalist Group not only denounces Arizona’s racist immigration law, we call for full citizenship rights for all immigrants.

Comparisons are being made, including by the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, to the racial laws of Nazi Germany, where people were stopped on the street because they “looked Jewish.” Perhaps Arizona police will now practice saying “show your papers” in the same peremptory tone that the Gestapo or German officers in occupied Europe demanded “Papiere zeigen.” And if immigrants (or others) can’t come up with the required documents, “suspects” will be shipped off to concentration camps, and eventually jailed or deported. Other comparisons are being made to South Africa’s infamous “pass laws,” requiring blacks to carry special internal passports, or fugitive slave laws in the pre-Civil War U.S. The comparisons make a point, but the criminalization of immigrants won’t just be a result of the Arizona law. Every day more than 30,000 immigrants are being held in the United States in more than 350 detention centers around the country.

Racist forces around the U.S. are hailing the Arizona law as a model for the kind of anti-immigrant witchhunting they are demanding. The bill’s author, Russell Pearce, hobnobs with well-known neo-Nazis and circulates literature from white supremacist groups. Meanwhile, just about everyone to the left of Adolph Hitler is using the opportunity to pose as a false friend of immigrants by making a few mild criticisms of SB 1070. Mexican president Felipe Calderón wraps himself in the tricolor flag and says the Arizona law “opens the door to intolerance, hate, discrimination, abuse in applying the law.” Yet the Grupo Beta of the Mexican Army notoriously cooperates with the migra in persecuting immigrants (particularly those from Central America), and the militarization imposed by Calderón is pushing thousands of Mexicans across the border.

Because of President Barack Obama’s description of the racist bill as “misguided,” many immigrants’ rights groups are calling on the federal Justice Department to carry out an “investigation” of whether it will violate civil rights. (The xenophobes say immigrants have no rights.) Others look to the courts to declare the law in violation of the U.S. Constitution, for preempting federal legislation on immigration. Many groups are calling to “boycott Arizona,” now dubbed the “hate state.” Yet not all Arizonans are responsible for this racial-profiling law: at that rate, why not boycott the U.S. as a whole for its racist violence and imperialist wars?

The biggest threat to immigrants is not from right-wing yahoos and immigrant-bashing Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County but from the federal government. The biggest immigrant hunters are not fascist Minuteman vigilantes but the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) police. Under Democrat Obama’s “Homeland Security” chief, former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, the Justice Department has set (and almost reached) a goal of 400,000 deportations a year, more than double the number in 2006 under Republican George Bush. Already jack-booted black-uniformed migra cops are kicking in apartment doors and arresting anyone they find who can’t provide instant proof of citizenship or legal residency, separating crying U.S.-born children from their foreign-born parents. Hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers are fired because of computer-generated “no match” letters.

Now liberal Democrats led by New York senator Charles Schumer are circulating a 26-page “conceptual framework on immigration.” Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada has vowed to bring immigration reform legislation to the floor “this year.” Like Obama’s professed “commitment” to reform the “broken” immigration system, which he repeated in a video message to the huge (more than 200,000 participants) March 21 immigrants’ rights march in Washington, this is a cruel hoax, a cheap trick to get immigrant and Hispanic votes. The Democrats are not about to pass an immigration law in this mid-term election year when they would face relentless attacks from Republican immigrant haters. More importantly, any “reform” they would pass would be a further attack on immigrants. The Schumer “concept” includes greatly expanding border patrols, increasing the number of ICE police, imposing thousands of dollars of fines on immigrants who seek to legalize their status and introducing a national identification card with biometric data.

For undocumented immigrants, the United States is already a police state, where they have no rights and seek to avoid any contacts with the authorities. The Democratic liberals’ immigration “reform” would turn the country into a police state for everyone.

The Internationalist Group urges immigrants to look not to the capitalist politicians but to the workers movement as their real allies. Although pro-capitalist bureaucrats have often spewed chauvinist poison against Chinese laborers in the 1800s and Latino, African and Asian immigrants today, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants are union members. Moreover, the labor movement as a whole has an interest in seeing that all workers have full and equal rights. We call on unions to take the lead in mobilizing to defend immigrants against racist attacks, which are sharply escalating in recent months. And we fight to defeat U.S. imperialist war abroad and the racist repression “at home” that always accompanies it. In World War II, Japanese Americans were portrayed as the “enemy within,” today Arab, South Asian and Latino immigrants in particular are targeted.

IG at April 23 New York City protest as Arizona law was signed by governor. (Internationalist photo)

Immigration laws under capitalism are inherently chauvinist and racist. While national borders will not be eliminated short of socialism, class-conscious workers can and must fight here and now for full citizenship rights for all immigrants. Such laws were among the first introduced by the 1789 French Revolution, which enacted the Rights of Man and made American revolutionary Thomas Paine a citizen; by the 1871 Paris Commune, the first workers government; and by the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia led by Lenin and Trotsky. After all, except for Native Americans who were almost wiped out in genocidal violence by white settlers and the federal government, everyone in the U.S. ultimately came from somewhere else. No matter how they got here, documented or undocumented, everyone residing in the United States should have the same rights. Period.

As for Arizona, the entire territory was stolen as booty from the U.S.’ 1848 invasion of Mexico, except for the 1853 “Gadsden Purchase” (more like robbery) of southern Arizona sought by War Secretary Jefferson Davis, the future president of the slaveholders’ Confederacy. Most of the state’s Anglo population could be considered illegal. As the state’s governor was signing SB 1070 into law, the Internationalist Group joined others in demonstrating in New York with our sign declaring: “Who’s Illegal? Return Phoenix and Southern Arizona to a Red Mexico! Navajos, Hopis and Zunis Get the Rest.”1

1 And lets not forget the Apaches, particularly the Chiricahuas, who were uniquely held as prisoners of war for 27 years (1886-1913) and dispossessed of their lands in southeastern Arizona and New Mexico. 

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com