African American equality and immigrant rights: united we stand

All workers have a big stake in fight for immigrant rights and should reject those who are trying to use that issue to drive a wedge between people -- black, brown and white.

We are a nation of immigrants. Unless they are Native American Indian, virtually every U.S. family has some roots in another country. The U.S. has the most multiracial and multinational working class in the world.

The long-term trend is immigration will continue. Some especially, on the right, think this is some kind of "threat" to the country, but our multiracial character is a wonderful strength.

Why are people coming here? 

Recently migration from Mexico has been dropping because of the economic crisis here. This shows that Mexican immigration is about jobs and survival. U.S. imperialism has always had a stranglehold on the Mexican economy, but it has been made worse by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

I've been to the Arizona border with Mexico and I've seen the faces of mostly young people who are risking their lives to walk through snake infested, sweltering desert. They carry with them the hopes of their families and villagers they will make it across, get a job and send some money home. Many do not make it.

It brings to mind the plight of thousands of escaped slaves during slavery who would have to walk and run for hundreds of miles trying to not get caught by the bounty hunters, while not knowing what consequences they would have to face once they reached a "free" state.

African Americans have an immigrant past too. We were "illegal immigrants" for over 300 years. We were dragged here from our homeland.

Thousands ran away following the North Star on the Underground Railroad which was run by abolitionists, black and white. Many African slaves ran away and joined Indian tribes. When Mexico abolished slavery in 1829 many escaped south of the border to freedom. These are some of the historic links that showed solidarity between black, brown, white and red people trying to overcome the horror that was U.S. slavery.  

The same kind of racism directed at the African America people for 400 years is being directed immigrants today. There needs to be unity.

The new composition of those immigrating to the U.S. has made immigration a real issue in the Black community. According to the 2008 U.S. Census, 1 in 4 African Americans today were born abroad. Of those born abroad over half come from the Caribbean and 34% were born on the continent of Africa. In 1960 it was only 1% from Africa. Africans now account for one in three foreign born Blacks. Based on the 2008 numbers 8% of all African Americans are now foreign born.   

Barack Obama's father was an immigrant.

Today over 25% of all children under the age of 6 are being raised by at least one foreign-born parent. The children of immigrants have as much chance for greatness as native-born children, if given a chance. 

Fair and humane treatment of immigrants would reject mass deportations and criminalization. It would include amnesty are issues that should be supported by decent minded people everywhere.

I have been especially disturbed by the efforts by right wingers like Lou Dobbs (who was finally forced out from CNN) to convince African Americans that immigrants are the reason for high unemployed among U.S. born workers.

Those who are trying to promote anti-immigrant ideas in our community are promoting racism and violence and ought to be completely rejected. 

Disunity at this time of crisis is the path towards more hardships and new defeats for the working class as a whole.

To call immigrants "law breakers" as many right-wing commentators do is to not tell the real story.

The fact is our immigration laws are oppressive and unjust. They are selectively enforced depending on the country of origin the race and class of the immigrant worker. The experience of an immigrant trying to enter the U.S. from Mexico versus Canada can be like night and day. 

And by the way, slavery was legal for 300 years but that didn't make it right.

The key to any humane resolution to the problem is some form of amnesty which will unite families, end the criminalization of millions of working people and allow those without documents to find their way to citizenship and legal employment.

The other part of the solution is jobs. We urgently need a green revolution which would create millions of good jobs. A national jobs bill needs to be passed that will create tens of millions of good jobs through federal spending.

In addition, it's time to withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and shift those trillions of dollars away from war to creating jobs by rebuilding our country.

The U.S. economy will benefit far more from such a huge increase in the buying power of working families through massive job creation then from more tax breaks for the wealthy, not to mention what it will do to our national spirit.


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  • YOUR STORY is great it reminds me one thing that I have been thinking about over a couple of days.Making slavery legal does not make it right?this reminds me of what is happening in my country Rwanda. your ancestors were in slavery for over 400 years after being uprooted from relatives here in Africa. they were treated in the most inhumane conditions ever but still no compensation of those who benefited from the free labor. this is the same case here in Rwanda. Our forefathers were induced into slavery by their countrymen of Tutsi tribe. Our grandfathers worked for Tutsis for over 400 years until recently when they got independence. It didnt take too long USA was not happy about the freedom that our fathers were enjoying and me included. I was 10 then when USA supported RPF a tutsi led military wing from Uganda to come and drove us out of our motherland and lived in refugee camps across the region. 2 years later US was not happy seeing us near Rwanda, they sent all possible military hardwares to hunt us. we fled again like the same your ancestors fled in 1960s to the free states, us did not have any free state we just ran for our dear lives until we got tired and RPF-US came and killed those they could when they got tired they loaded some of us into the cargo planes to be put behind the bars so that we die slowly.

    what I wanted to say is that the divide and rule or divert attention is the capitalist tactic to confuse people and continue plunder

    Posted by KANAMUGIRE, 11/20/2010 9:52pm (5 years ago)

  • what do you know about The North American Union?

    what RIGHTS do the First Nations have?

    Mexicans have entry rights under NAFTA besides other rules...

    how many ILLEGAL immigrants do you want...Polish, Irish, etc. etc. do you want " even though you BROKE the Law you can stay" ??

    Negros/ BLACK Americans do not respect AFRICANS no matter what part of the world they immigrate from

    i wonder if you own a US Passport...

    the workers of this country can not work for the betterment of the nation....the Nunnery is communal (communist)

    Canada has more tongues than the US because they have different immigration policies...

    if you BRAKE THE LAW to get here , what other laws will you break?? further you DO NOT respect those that are here

    thanx for your thoughts

    Posted by j. h, 03/04/2010 2:06pm (6 years ago)

  • You talk about immigration like Americans believe it is wrong.
    The problem is and has been proven to be "illegal" immigration. I hane no problem and am a descendant of immigrants myself, but they came here legally, followed the laws and made a life here....again, legally.

    Also, remember, it was the black african brothers that sold your ancestors into slavery and without the majority of caring people, both white and others, slavery was stopped.
    Unless you want to punish people for what they think, which I am sure you do, there will always be discimination and everyone experiences it to differing degrees. How you respond to and rise above it will determine your "lot" in life.

    Posted by Cat, 03/04/2010 10:52am (6 years ago)

  • Many, many thanks, Jarvis, for this fine article which hits the nail on the head. Let's not let the Lou Dobbs types use the immigration issue as a distraction to divide the working class just when it most needs to be united.
    There is a massive mobilization underway to support progressive immigration reform, with a march on Washington scheduled for March 21.
    In Congress, HR 4321 is a decent bill that will provide legalization for the vast majority of undocumented immigrants plus fix some other problems with our immigration system. It currently has 93 cosponsors but needs 218 votes to pass. And there is no accompanying bill in the Senate yet, though Sen. Schumer is supposedly developing one. 4321 already has most of the Congressional Black caucus onboard.
    Organized labor, faith based, community and civil rights organizations are mobilizing to support these efforts.
    The CPUSA has revised our pamphlet on immigrants' rights, and will get it out to the public very soon.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 02/23/2010 9:51pm (6 years ago)

  • Amnesty and jobs, not racist repression, is the solution to the immigration problem. Thanks for an article that updates us on the problem but stays in the solution.

    Posted by Frank Chapman, 02/23/2010 12:36pm (6 years ago)

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