NEW YORK CITY, December 23 — Two recent stories show how the racist noose, Jena-style, is tightening around the necks of undocumented immigrants, thereby sharpening exploitation of all workers and intensifying fascist control in the U.S.
On December 20, two days before a vote to have the United Food and Commercial Workers Union represent warehouse workers at Fresh Direct here, a multi-racial group of unionists and community and church groups rallied to support them. The bosses at Fresh Direct, a rapidly-expanding company that raked in a $240 million profit in 2007, fired hundreds of undocumented workers. They had threatened the workers with deportation raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which the company had invited to the warehouse. Fresh Direct bosses are deliberately using ICE to divide and defeat the union drive.
A black worker, responding to an ad for a job there, encountered a comrade and later joined the rally. “I’m against deporting workers who’ve been working in the U.S. and dividing their families,” he declared.
Our ability to fight exploitation and criminalization of undocumented workers depends on such an internationalist working-class outlook and an increasing willingness of all workers to fight back for our class, not on uniting with the politicians for so-called immigration reform. In fact, a key element of such “reform” will be a guest-worker program that will allow bosses like those at Fresh Direct to “legally” super-exploit and divide workers.
On December 13 about 80 people held a candlelight vigil sponsored by the New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) at Manhattan’s ICE Center, where immigrants awaiting deportation are processed before being sent to detention centers. Nearly two million people have been deported in the last decade; ICE detains more than 280,000 a year.
The NSM flyer exposed the fact that “New York City collaborates with ICE in many ways: In 2006 the City’s Dept. of Corrections received over $18 million from the federal government in exchange for targeting non-citizens, more that any other city in the country….Without revealing their identities, ICE officers routinely question and then detain suspected non-citizens caught up in the criminal justice system, many of whom have yet to be convicted or even charged with a crime.”
The New Sanctuary stance to protest in the streets against raids and racist terror is a welcome development. But the struggle must sharpen. Immediately after the vigil participants arrived, a handful of gutter racists from Morristown, NJ appeared with whistles, American flags and signs saying, “Deport them all.” A comrade chanted in their faces. “We are workers, we’re not illegals,” trying to win the protestors to stand up to the racists. A few protesters joined her, but most chose to ignore them, saying, “Don’t worry. Our message is stronger than theirs.”
The comrade pointed out that allowing such racists to go unchallenged permits the growth of violent racism that historically results in fascist genocide. She explained how Morristown racists throw rocks and bottles at day laborers in New Jersey and work with politicians like Morristown Mayor Crisitelli and Colorado Senator Tancredo. But while Tancredo proclaims he’s made “immigration a front-burner issue,” it’s the liberal ruling class that’s primarily behind the legalization of fascist treatment of immigrants.
They don’t want to deport most of the undocumented immigrants, just enough to terrorize them and all workers in order to super-exploit them even more. These liberals want to use the so-called Dream Act to force undocumented youth to serve as cannon fodder in their imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, and militarize the U.S./Mexico border, all in the name of “national security.” A couple of the comrade’s good friends later told her they agreed with her and that we need to discuss the issue in the Sanctuary group.
History teaches us that capitalism is built on racist exploitation and that defeating fascist terror requires a revolutionary communist party. PLP’ers join mass organizations like the Sanctuary Movement to bring these ideas to workers and their allies.