In the 2008 elections, the reactionaries are hoping to divide our progressive class with the immigration “wedge” issue. From what I have seen around North Texas so far, it is working pretty well for them. If one looks at history, it’s easy to see how the old pogroms against Jews were cooked up. It wasn’t sufficient to have a nasty bunch of violence-prone ignoramuses around — they have pretty much always been around. What’s essential for pogroms is encouragement from the ruling class through their government and media spokespersons. The most important signal the bosses send out is that they won’t enforce the laws on civil rights and civil liberties. That’s the “go ahead” for the brutal racist gangs.
We’re going in that direction here, and it could easily get worse during the coming election year as the right wing uses simplistic anti-immigrant rhetoric to desperately maintain its grip on state power. There is an ideological remedy at hand, and I’m hoping it finds regular employment as the situation develops. The remedy is to honestly connect the upturn in the numbers of poor immigrants with the neoliberalist policies of the ruling class, especially those controlling the transnational corporations.
While many American workers may be, and seem to be, confused on the subject of immigration, they are actually quite clear on how much they hate the transnational corporations and their imperialistic “free trade agreements.” Those who realize that it is neoliberalism in the United States that destroys the economies in non-industrialized countries and drives their people here have a better understanding of what is happening and what to do about it.
For some workers, it might be easier to understand what is happening in some other industrialized country, because the situation seems to be about the same for them as it is for us. The European transnationals are driving people out of Africa and Asia just as clearly as the U.S. transnationals drive them out of the Central and South American nations. It isn’t a matter of “illegal” versus “legal,” nor even a moral matter. The question before the workers is this: “How long will we allow imperialism to destroy the only defense we have, our natural unity with the rest of the working class from all nations?”
Jim Lane is a labor activist in Dallas.