The reopening of Senate floor debate on the “Grand Bargain” immigration bill, S 1348, reflects, among many things, the increasing significance of migrating labor in global economics and politics. Like global warming, it cannot be ignored anymore. It is becoming one of the critical issues in class and democratic struggles worldwide. The U.S. is no exception.
With transnational corporations, especially U.S.-based ones, having the upper hand in the global economy, the direction of the debate tends to move in their favor. The racist and nativist anti-immigrant demagoguery of the extreme right wing, though it ostensibly attacks the role of corporations, basically works in their favor by blaming immigrants for the negative impacts of their exploitation.
Supporters of democratic and labor rights cannot ignore these realities, no matter how complex and misunderstood the issue may be for the general public. Just as the people of this country are gaining a better grasp of the issues of global warming, the Iraq war and corporate domination, they are getting a better understanding of immigration as well.
Immigrant workers know they are in a fight. Over a million letters were delivered to the Senate last week calling for legalization. Some 1 million mostly immigrant workers and their families marched for immigrant equality on May 1 despite the chilling impact of the Bush administration’s increasing factory and neighborhood raids, deportations and denials of rights and police brutality. They are being joined by growing numbers of labor, civil rights, peace and religious groups and the general public who see immigrant rights as key to solving the larger problems of migration.
The “Grand Bargain” ignores the global economic factors in the push and pull of immigrant issues. It blames the immigrants for the problems, and codifies present and future inequality. But it is the battleground, the terrain of struggle — not of our choice — along with the fight against the raids, right now, and we must fight for equality for immigrant labor in every provision of the bill. As the Fourth of July nears, we must fight to uphold the principle proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence: human rights are inalienable.