As the economy continues to slide, pressured by oil corporation price gouging at the pump, accelerating corporate layoffs and the Bush war in Iraq, there has been a surge in racist bigotry directed against undocumented workers.

From the vigilante activities of the so-called Minutemen in the Southwest to the recent declaration of a “border emergency” by the governors of Arizona and New Mexico, attacks on immigrant workers — both open and thinly veiled — are on the rise.

Hostility directed against immigrants is wrongly placed. The real culprits are in the boardrooms of the biggest U.S. corporations.

The failure of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now 10 years old, to raise living standards in Mexico has added to a growing crisis for working families on both sides of the border. Just this week, a poll conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center indicated that 4 of 10 Mexican adults would migrate to the U.S. to work if they had the means. So much for the wild, big-business claims that NAFTA was a win-win situation for everyone.

The recent passage of CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, will only accelerate this dynamic and intensify the exploitation of workers throughout the hemisphere.

U.S.-based corporations, including GM and Alcoa, whose grotesque profits are wrenched from the backs of working families living in cardboard boxes along the border, aren’t talking about the anti-worker fallout of “free trade” agreements, and they won’t. They are too busy counting their money.

Now comes a House bill introduced by Texas Republican John Culberson that would give vigilantes, like the notorious Minutemen, $6.8 billion of Homeland Security money to “use any means and any force” against undocumented workers crossing the border. The bill, HR 3622, has 47 co-sponsors, all Republicans. We wonder: Does the $6.8 billion include jackboots and brown-shirt uniforms?

This is not immigration policy. It is racist bigotry and a recipe for violence.

We stand for working-class internationalism, for unity against the big corporations. We must demilitarize the U.S.-Mexico border, end discrimination against immigrant workers, facilitate their rapid legalization and provide future immigrants with a safe and legal path to citizenship for those who want it.