NATIONAL CONFERENCE: DOWN WITH CAPITALISM, FIGHT FOR WOLD SOCIALISM!
Immigrant rights movement at a crossroads
Published Nov 18, 2010 9:37 PM
WW photo: G. Dunkel
Following are excerpts from the Nov. 13 talk given at the Workers
World Party national conference by Teresa Gutierrez, a member of the
Secretariat of Workers World Party and a leader of the May 1 Coalition for
Worker and Immigrant Rights.
This conference is historic — because it takes place at a time of
development in the capitalist system like none other. No communist or
class-conscious organizer has faced what we are facing.
Imperialism and capitalism are at a unique point in development. This is a
crisis of the entire system. This is not your common boom-and-bust crisis, but
one with absolutely no answer to the growing unemployment or any of the myriad
problems our class faces here and around the world.
This is a crisis with a jobless recovery. Does this mean we cannot win jobs in
this period? Absolutely not! It only means that we must revive the class
struggle, together with the ideological struggle, in order to win the jobs and
rights workers deserve, including legalization.
The movement for immigrant rights, like many others, is at a crossroad. It is
an example of how urgent the need is to revive the ideological struggle.
Activists must put on class-conscious glasses in order to not only survive but
move the struggle forward.
Jon Stewart attacked Marxism at his silly, obtuse but dangerous rally in
Washington. But only Marxism will provide the tools to understand and put an
end to the crisis.
How else can immigrant activists go forward? How else can we analyze the
elections and their relevance to the passage of pro-immigrant legislation
without class lenses?
The Latino vote in many areas of the country was crucial to Democratic
elections. The re-election of Harry Reid is the biggest example.
Republican Latinos were elected in record numbers. The election of
anti-immigrant Marc Rubio and Republican Gov. Rick Scott in Florida led
immigrants to comment with great fear about their future.
History shows that it matters not who is in Washington but who is in the
In Florida, like elsewhere, there is talk about passing Arizona-like
legislation. The alarming implementation of 287(g) — legislation
initiated by Clinton, strengthened by Bush and expanded by President Obama
— has led to a wave of racial profiling. Immigrants are singled out for
arrest without suspicion of a crime. Being stopped for a busted taillight,
selling DVDs on a street corner or a tragic domestic violence can quickly lead
It is understandable how the fear of the right-wing, how the racist rhetoric of
Tea Party candidates propelled many into the voting booths to pull the
Democratic Party lever. But it’s a setback. The Democrats have done
nothing but sell out the immigrant rights movement.
So what do we do? Organize and fight back, that’s what. These are pillars
of our party work, whether it is in coalitions or organizing
Our work is guided by the teachings of Lenin and Sam Marcy, our founder. We
understand that self-determination and our support of the oppressed play into
every struggle. There are nuances and delicacies in every coalition. We worry
when and how to criticize and when not to. These are important questions you
have got to get right to advance the struggle.
One of the most debated developments in the immigrant rights movement now is
that of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
This bill, introduced in 2001, would provide undocumented students with
conditional legal status and eventual citizenship if, among other things, they
attend college or enlist in the military.
There are few opportunities to attend college; jobs are scarce. The passage of
the DREAM Act comes down to a recruitment tool for the imperialist armed
forces; it is a forced draft of our immigrant youth. There’s no question
But our party and the coalitions we work with have supported the students and
youth in this movement. How can you not when undocumented youth have risen up
in defiance and declared, “I am undocumented and unafraid.” After
10 years of fighting for this bill, they are angry.
This is a complex and even heartbreaking issue. But who will win the hearts and
minds of these youth? Harry Reid? Not if we have anything to do with it!
Who will win the allegiance of all the workers and the oppressed? Who will see
to it that the working class is marching, not to the voting booth, but in the
streets to Wall Street, the Pentagon and the White House? Who will provide the
analysis for the masses as they face unemployment, foreclosures and all the
rest? Who will point the way out?
Who will support these youth who yearn for legalization but also point out to
them in the most thoughtful and sensitive way: What will happen if the DREAM
Act passes as is?
What will that legalized youth do when he or she is sent to Colombia to kill
trade unionists or the rebels in the jungle? What will legalized youth do when
they are sent to the U.S./Mexican border and ordered to turn their guns on an
immigrant family crossing the same border that their family did?
How will you get into the door to raise a revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist
analysis if you are attacking their struggle?
Despite the outcome of the elections, make no mistake about it: Latinos/as are
not for sale. Our history is ripe with revolutionary fervor. We need only to
When we do we will orient not to Colin Powell but to Mumia Abu-Jamal; not to
the Democratic Party but to the Cuban Communist Party; not to Marc Rubio but to
Fidel Castro; not to Gov. Susan Martinez of New Mexico but to revolutionary
sister Lolita Lebron.
We will revive the ideas of Che Guevara, a maximum revolutionary leader of
Latino heritage. Che said: “We must bear in mind that imperialism is a
world system, the last stage of capitalism — and it must be defeated in a
Comrades and friends, let us begin that world confrontation right here, right
now, in the belly of the beast. The time has come. The time is now. There is no
way forward but revolution. The capitalist system has run its course. There is
no other option but to abolish it and build socialism.
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