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A.N.S.W.E.R.'s Response to Bush's Speech on Immigration
A.N.S.W.E.R.'S RESPONSE TO BUSH'S SPEECH ON IMMIGRATION: HIT THE STREETS MAY 16TH AND MAY 17TH NO TO TROOPS AT THE BORDER -- YES TO AMNESTY AND FULL LEGALIZATION!
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A.N.S.W.E.R.'S RESPONSE TO BUSH'S SPEECH ON IMMIGRATION:
HIT THE STREETS MAY 16TH AND MAY 17TH
NO TO TROOPS AT THE BORDER -- YES TO AMNESTY AND FULL LEGALIZATION!
Caught between his extreme right wing and racist base, and fearful of
the power of the people that has exploded on the streets in the last two
months, Bush was compelled to go on national television tonight to
announce his version of immigration reform. His announced plans show that
militarism is not only the favored method but the actual goal of the
Bush administration as it deals with every issue from the Middle East to
the struggle for workers rights inside the United States itself.
As a direct response to the heroic mobilizations of millions of
immigrant workers and their families seeking to achieve basic civil rights and
workers rights, Bush went on national television tonight to announce
that he is sending thousands of troops to the U.S.-Mexican border as a
support apparatus for the arrests of millions of immigrant workers as
they try to cross the border in a desperate search for employment.
The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition calls on people all over the country to take
to the streets at emergency protests tomorrow May 16 in New York City
and on Wednesday, May 17, in Washington DC, to demand: No to Bush's
anti-immigrant campaign! Stop racist deportations and border
militarization! Support full civil rights, legalization and amnesty for all
undocumented workers! This week Congress is debating immigration bills, Bush
wants to sign a measure by the end of the months - it is urgent that the
voice of the people be heard.
Immigrant Rights Groups, Unions, Civil Rights Organizations and the
Anti-War movement are Building Unity to Stop the Racist and Anti-Worker
Campaign of Bush and the Right-Wing.
As with every political program based on racism, the campaign against
immigrant workers is based on dehumanizing, stereotypical lies and
propaganda. Uprooted from their homelands by the process of corporate
globalization and so-called Free Trade, which has led to massive
unemployment, millions of workers from Mexico, Central America and elsewhere have
migrated to the United States, where they are forced to take employment
in low-paid, back-breaking jobs.
In the last year, 1.2 million people have been arrested at the
U.S.-Mexican border. Since 1994, when the Clinton Administration further
militarized the border at common crossing sights, more than 3,600 immigrants
- forced into ever-more dangerous routes - have died in the Arizona
desert, in the mountains in California, in other remote locations, or have
suffocated in the back of trucks stuffed with human cargo. Bush tonight
announced that he would use the military to erect "high tech fences in
urban corridors," a decision that will inevitably consign an ever
larger number of people to silent death. This is an effort to force people
into ever more dangerous and deadly crossings through the deserts and
The struggle of the undocumented worker
Those undocumented workers who make it across the border are employed
at poverty wages and live with ever-present fear of arrest, ICE raids
and deportation. Undocumented workers are viciously exploited by bosses
who know that it is difficult for these workers to participate in union
drives that would offer protection and higher wages.
Undocumented immigrant workers pay taxes and have deductions taken from
their paychecks and yet they are ineligible to collect any benefits.
Undocumented immigrants pay more than $7 billion into Social Security
each year but unlike other workers who pay Social Security taxes, they can
receive no benefits from the program. Likewise, they pay more than $1.5
billion into Medicare each year even though they are ineligible for
Medicare. (New York Times, April 5, 2005). Undocumented workers pay sales
taxes and property taxes.
Background to the Current Immigrant Rights Struggle -- NAFTA's Impact
In 1993, after negotiating for several years, the governments of
Canada, Mexico and the United States signed the North American Free Trade
Agreement. NAFTA went into effect in 1994.
The results have devastated workers' communities in all three
First, NAFTA prohibits the Mexican government from subsidizing
agricultural production. But at the same time, it allows the government of the
United States to continue providing subsidies to U.S. agriculture to
the tune of billions of dollars every year. The practical result is that
U.S. producers are dumping in the Mexican market their subsidized
products at prices with which Mexican producers can't compete. With no jobs,
and in order to survive, many Mexican farmers are left with only one
choice: to migrate to the United States.
On the U.S. side, NAFTA has meant that many good-paying jobs have gone
to Mexico. For example, U.S.-owned auto plants have set up shop in
various parts of Mexico where workers earn a fraction of what those
companies were required to pay under the terms of their collective bargaining
agreements to their U.S. workers.
Unlike their displaced Mexican counterparts who migrate to the United
States, American workers choose not to migrate for obvious reasons. U.S.
workers do not have the incentive to migrate to Mexico to earn
one-tenth of their former salaries.
What happens next? The agents of Corporate America distort the terrible
situation created by so-called Free Trade. They do so by working long
and hard to exploit the anger of the U.S. worker to foment racist
feelings and attitudes against the undocumented and against everything
foreign, especially against non-European immigrants. This is done in order to
divide, weaken and maintain effective political control of the working
class, and to ensure their continued economic exploitation.
That is why today the U.S. government--instead of offering
legalization, equality and amnesty--promotes the Bush "guest worker" immigration
plan, which in effect amounts to indentured servitude for immigrants.
This after Bush had promised his "good friend," Mexican president Vicente
Fox, an amnesty plan for Mexican immigrants.
In order to leverage the Bush immigration plan, the political right
wing in the United States funds and promotes groups like the so-called
Minutemen. This fascist group and others like it are spreading like
wildfire throughout the country, increasing racist attitudes against
immigrants and sowing confusion amongst the working class about who their real
class enemies are.
Yes to Amnesty and Full Rights -- No to a Guest Worker Program!
Everyone in the immigrants rights movement agrees that the HR4437, the
Sensenbrenner Bill that turns undocumented workers into felons, must be
defeated. But there are differences over what should take its place.
Some in the union movement and the immigrants rights movement support the
McCain-Kennedy Bill or the Hagel-Martinez Bill under the assumption
that this is "the best we can get." Many corporations and banks support
these "compromise" bills because they are tailor-made to benefit
corporations who want low-wage workers who have no rights and are dependent on
the employer to prevent deportation.
Some in the labor and immigrant rights movement, reacting to the
pressure of the racist right-wing's opposition to the demand for amnesty
insist that the word "amnesty" should never be uttered. This is
self-defeating and does not in any way correspond to the sentiments of the
immigrant worker community. When people at the mass marches are asked: "What
do we want?" no one yells back "a guest worker program." The chant that
resonates at the base of the movement is Amnistia or Amnesty -- and it
is heard everywhere. The people want equality. They want equal
protection under the law, an equal right to join a union, an equal right to
live in dignity.
What is wrong with a Guest Worker Program?
The historical record of "guest worker" programs shows that the main
beneficiaries are rich business owners, not immigrant workers. The United
Farm Workers, under the leadership of Cesar Chavez, worked to overturn
the Braceros guest worker program as a key element to eventually
organizing farm workers into the union.
The Bracero program initiated in 1942, lasted until 1964, by which time
the program's federal director, Lee G. Williams, deemed it "nothing
short of legalized slavery."
In 1942, many U.S. citizens working in agriculture were either drafted
into World War II or sent to factories to help with military
production. U.S. agribusiness faced a labor shortage crisis and called on the
government for help. The U.S and Mexican governments quickly instituted
the Bracero program--bracero means "hired hand"--that brought in Mexican
laborers for seasonal harvests or a set period of time. After their
contracts expired, most of the workers were deported to Mexico.
The braceros were cheated out of hundreds of millions of dollars in
unpaid labor. After a long, organized struggle, now elderly survivors have
only recently won some of this money back. The Mexican government just
announced a program to compensate former braceros and their families.
Mexico's program falls far short of what the braceros are actually owed.
The U.S. government has offered nothing.
The new proposed guest worker program is nearly a repeat of the Bracero
program. Most of the guest workers, like the majority of undocumented
immigrants in the U.S., come from Mexico.
This time, the program is meant to expand far beyond agriculture.
Employment and deportation will not be based on seasonal harvests. According
to the White House website, "The program will require the return of
temporary workers to their home country after their period of work has
concluded. The legal status granted by this program would last three
years, be renewable, and have an end."
As John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO stated about the "compromise"
legislation: they "tear at the heart of true reform and will drive
millions of hard-working immigrants further into the shadows of American
society, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation." By dividing immigrants
already here into three different classifications, the...proposal will
create an undemocratic, three-tiered society that degrades and
marginalizes millions of immigrant families in our communities while driving
down wage and benefits standards for everyone."
We encourage everyone to join a demonstration and rally in your area on
May 16th and 17th and in the coming week. Now is the time for everyone
to stand up for full equality, legalization and amnesty for
undocumented workers. The struggle for workers justice has no borders.
Protests condemning the militarization of the border!
New York City
Tuesday, May 16 at 5:00pm
Department of Homeland Security, 26 Federal Plaza
Wednesday May 17 - 5 pm
Federal Plaza (Adams & Dearborn in Chicago)
Wednesday, May 17
National Mall at 14th St.
Act Now to Stop War & End Racism
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