The Immigration Issue: Who Benefits?

The following is a resolution adopted by the Socialist Labor Party's 47th National Convention, July 16, 2007.

The Socialist Labor Party of America reasserts that the international class struggle is a fact, that the working and ruling classes of the world have nothing in common, and that every attempt to prevent the working classes of the world from uniting in their own interests requires the unqualified condemnation of all those who profess to speak in the interests of labor, regardless of their assertions and pretenses to the contrary.

For that reason, the SLP reaffirms its commitment to the principle that unrestricted emigration of workers from one country to another is a human right, and that every attempt to limit, control or manipulate the working classes of the world in the free exercise of that right is meant to serve the interests of the ruling classes of the world and also requires the unqualified condemnation of all those who profess to speak in the interests of labor.

Accordingly, the SLP reiterates its demand for the abolition of all laws designed to restrict or manipulate the immigration of workers into the United States, rebukes recent attempts by the Bush administration and by Congress to overhaul rather than repeal those laws, and denounces every attempt to conceal the real motives behind these efforts under the guise of such false pretenses as “national security,” protecting the wages and living standards of American workers against “unfair competition” from immigrant labor, or defending immigrant workers against ruthless exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Recently, one such attempt at manipulating the nation’s restrictions on free immigration failed in the U.S. Senate. Republican Senator Arlen Specter falsely asserted the purpose of that attempt when he said, “It is indispensable to have a guest worker program to take care of the needs of the economy.”

Many others who supposedly support immigrants also have asserted that the U.S. economy would collapse if every undocumented worker were deported from our country because such industries as agriculture, hospitality, health care, manufacturing and construction rely on immigrants, and that they are working the jobs that native-born workers do not want. Regardless of the motivation behind such an argument, no capitalist who benefits from the exploitation of immigrant labor would disagree with it. Moreover, the argument is false—no matter who puts it forward—because there are millions of unemployed Americans who would willingly fill those jobs if they were not dirty, dangerous and so poorly paid—conditions fully within the control of those industries to change. However, if the argument were true it would only attest that capitalism cannot survive without the vicious exploitation of labor and the perpetuation of human misery. Such a system condemns itself out of hand and does not deserve to survive.

Still others having different motives and concerns mistakenly scapegoat immigrants as the source of stagnant or falling wages, declining living standards and unemployment, and call for punitive measures against them. In truth, however, unemployment, and whatever pressure immigrant labor places on wages, is a direct result of the competitive capitalist system itself. It is a byproduct of the system of wage labor, which forces workers to compete for their livelihoods on the basis of the conditions laid down by the capitalist system. Accordingly, efforts to scapegoat immigrants only serve to divide workers against one another, place greater hardships on immigrants and their families, and draw attention away from the capitalist source of these problems.

In addition, the SLP recognizes that millions of workers who have immigrated to the United States in hopes of improving their lives have been bitterly disappointed and subjected to the most ruthless exploitation by the American ruling class. Indeed, the recently proposed but defeated “guest worker program” was similar to and in some respects indistinguishable from past efforts by America’s capitalist class to control and import cheap labor to maximize profits, e.g., the infamous Bracero Program that brought in millions of poor, unskilled Mexican workers on a temporary basis from 1942 to 1964.

Moreover, the so-called unions that support the capitalist system of exploitation deserve special condemnation because they have sought to benefit from such conditions by ingratiating themselves with immigrant workers and opportunistically pretending to represent their interests.

From the preceding it is clear that capitalism with its private ownership of the economy and exploitation of wage labor is responsible for economic hardship and insecurity for all workers; that it compels workers for economic reasons to leave their home countries and seek employment elsewhere; that immigration laws, whether promoted by so-called liberals or conservatives, only serve to benefit the capitalist class. Accordingly, the critical issue facing America’s workers today is the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism. Therefore, be it

Resolved, that the Socialist Labor Party reiterates its unqualified opposition to all efforts to restrict the right to free immigration; and

Resolved, that the Socialist Labor Party condemns the capitalist exploiters of all workers, their labor lieutenants and the “unions” that seek to perpetuate the system of wage slavery; and

Resolved, that the Socialist Labor Party extends a fraternal hand of welcome to all immigrant workers to the United States, and invites them to join in our efforts to abolish capitalism and establish the free and democratic Socialist Industrial Republic of free and emancipated labor in this country, in their respective homelands and throughout the world.

Socialist Labor Party of America, P.O. Box 218, Mountain View, CA 94042-0218 • •

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