Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
Published May 1st, 2007 in Leaflets.
(CV #40, August 2007)
. On May Day 2007 we hail the struggles that workers around the world have waged during the past year, particularly the powerful struggle that developed in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Fighting these battles is essential if workers are to once again be in a position to come out as a class fighting in its own interests -- as they did during the general strike for the 8-hour day that began May 1,1886. That this is necessary is evident: The capitalists continue to drive down wages, benefits and working conditions so that the rich can become richer. In 2005 the top 300,000 U.S. taxpayers had almost as much income as the bottom 150 million wage earners combined! Immigrant and national-minority workers are being super-exploited all over the world in order to increase the profits of the capitalists and to drive down the conditions of all workers. Women continue to be brutally exploited and oppressed, with their condition worsening in many countries. The capitalist system of production is destroying the environment at an alarming rate. The U.S. government is slaughtering the working and poor people of Iraq in a war to ensure the U.S. sphere of imperialist domination of the Middle East and its oil.
. Thus, workers everywhere need to take a hand in reorganizing and advancing their independent
movement. Two pressing issues of vital concern to the working class this May Day are the
attacks on our immigrant sisters and brothers in this country, and the continuing U.S. imperialist
occupation of Iraq.
Congressional immigration reforms
are vicious attacks on the entire working class
. The ruling capitalist class wants to deny approximately 12 million immigrant workers living in this country the same rights as everyone else so that it can more profitably exploit them. Keeping immigrant workers living in fear of deportation if they stand up for their rights in strikes or other struggles is "good business!" for the capitalists. This denial of rights to one part of the working class is then used as a wedge to drive down the conditions of all workers. Advancing the struggle for full rights for all immigrants -- no matter what their legal status -- is therefore in the vital interest of every worker.
. Last year a huge movement erupted against the attacks on immigrants embodied in the
Sensenbrenner bill (HR 4437). The ruling class then put forward the Hagel-Martinez
comprehensive reform -- a reform that was actually supported by several important immigrant
rights groups and trade unions. But it was also a vicious attack. In face of last spring's powerful
movement these bills were beaten back or tied up because of divisions among the capitalist
politicians. But the attacks on immigrants have been stepped up through piece-meal legislation,
with Congress approving a 17 percent increase in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE) overall budget, nearly doubling ICE funds for detention and deportations, and funding 700
more miles of fence on the border with Mexico. And now both Bush and the Democrats are again
floating outrageous bills in Congress.
. Bush wants to force "illegal" immigrants to travel to their home countries and then pay $10,000 for a work visa, and he supports a new "Z" visa that would cost $3,500 every three years. With various application fees the cost per person could total more than $20,000 -- just to work. Further, both Bush and the Democrats want a "guest worker" program, with the bipartisan House bill practically requiring that the "guests" be bound to a single employer. This is nothing but indentured servitude. But this is only the tip of the iceberg concerning the House bill that was introduced by liberal Democrat Gutiérrez and conservative Republican Flake, and that is known as the STRIVE Act.
. This bill would heavily militarize the border with Mexico, double the number of Border Patrol agents by 2012, involve the National Guard and local police in migrant hunting, build 20 new prisons for immigrants, set up a national biometric database to track all immigrants, turn immigrants who cross the borders without papers into "criminals," and a forged passport or false visa could result in 15 years in prison! (Many immigrant rights groups have dubbed this the "son of Sensenbrenner" bill. ) It also creates a costly "path to citizenship" which contains hurdles almost impossible to meet, and which could take as long as 18-21 years to traverse. All of these measures strengthen the employers' ability to use immigrants as semi-slave labor.
. Meanwhile, the leaders of the National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Forum, and the League of United Latin American Citizens have all praised this bill in press releases; while the SEIU also praises it -- police state features and all -- but doesn't like the requirement that an immigrant must leave the country and then pay $2,000 to come back. And, in the Senate, liberal Kennedy and conservative McCain are trying to refurbish a version of last year's reactionary Hagel-Martinez bill.
. Thus, "comprehensive immigration reform" in Washington currently means working out the
details of how to attack immigrants and the entire working class. To win any acceptable reform
means that the treachery of the Democrats, Republicans, various "immigrant rights" groups and
union leaders must be exposed and opposed as a more powerful immigrant rights movement is
built in the streets and workplaces. In this work, our orientation should be to fight for full rights
for all immigrants!
Build the movement against imperialist war!
. On May Day four years ago Bush declared "mission accomplished" in Iraq. This mission was to control Iraqi oil wealth and to have a permanent military presence in the oil-rich region with which to dictate U. S. interests--an imperialist mission, pure and simple. But the occupation has met with such just hatred and resistance by the masses of Iraqi people -- as well as resistance by reactionary factions of the Iraqi exploiters -- that it has become a fiasco except for military and reconstruction contractors who have been handed billions of dollars by the government. And, the U.S. ruling class is not about to let regional or global rivals control this strategic oil-rich region. Hence, Bush is escalating the war with another 30,000 troops while the Democrats devise alternative tactics that also rely on military force.
. In November millions of people voted for the Democrats thinking that they would withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. But these hopes have been betrayed. First, the House Democrats passed a non-binding resolution against escalation, and now both the House and Senate Democrats have agreed on legislation that funds continued war in Iraq and Afghanistan to the tune of $124. 2 billion! Although this legislation is advertised as a withdrawal plan, it would leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq as military trainers, guardians of U.S. installations, and conducting military operations under the banner of "counter-terrorism. " Further, the finalized legislation only sets a non-binding goal of completing the troop pull out by April 1, 2008. There is no provision that these troops be sent back to the U.S. because most top Democrats want to deploy them to other Middle Eastern countries, or to Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, one of the bill's "benchmarks" is a demand that the Iraqi government pass an oil and gas law favorable to U.S. oil and financial interests. Bush will veto this legislation, and the Democrats have sworn that they will continue to fund "the troops," that is, fund the imperialist occupation.
. Meanwhile, the Democrats maintain a "progressive" wing (i.e., the House "Out of Iraq Caucus"). These "progressives" recently played the two-faced role of rounding up the necessary votes to pass the original House war-funding bill, and then a handful of them voted against it as a matter of "conscience. " Further, their own bill would re-deploy U.S. troops after six more months of slaughter, but supports "providing financial assistance or equipment to keep Iraqi security forces and international forces in Iraq," and it wants to use NATO and/or the UN troops as cannon fodder in carrying out a more international imperialist occupation. The political role of this "progressive" wing of the party is to stave off the huge and militant struggle necessary to force the U.S. out of Iraq.
. Our solidarity is with the Iraqi workers and poor people--hundreds of thousands of whom have been slaughtered since the U.S. invasion, and millions who are internal and external war refugees. But they're not just victims. They fight back against the occupation, and they've waged several strikes in the oil and other industries. Moreover, worker is being pitted against worker in civil war between bourgeois-led sectarian factions over which faction is going to dominate Iraq. Thus they face a similar problem of unifying themselves against the common enemy as we do in this country.
. Our solidarity is also with the resisting soldiers in the U.S. military. These soldiers are overwhelmingly sons and daughters of the working class and other poor people who only joined up in order to get the education or job training that they couldn't afford on the outside -- and, if they're immigrants, to get citizenship. Now they're being used as cogs in a machine that kills and oppresses in Iraq so that the rich can become richer. Many soldiers are rebelling against this, and their resistance is the truly courageous and honorable path.
. This May Day, the fighting holiday of the world's workers, we call on all workers to push forward the struggles against imperialist war, and for immigrant rights. These battles are necessary and unifying in their own right, and they also help pave the way for the working class to once again mount big national and international battles in defense of its immediate interests, and for a world without imperialism and oppression.
Seattle Anti-Imperialist Committee
May Day 2007
Last changed on September 10, 2007.