Friday, June 22, 2012

A trap for the unwary; or: DREAMs considered as wishful thinking

"Workers World Commentary" piece from the June 28 issue.  I couldn't find it on the website, or their RSS Feed on my Google Reader, so I did a cut and paste from the WW pdf itself, which can be found here.

Obama reacts to immigration struggle
By Teresa Gutierrez

President Barack Obama made
a significant announcement about
immigration policy on June 15.
Obama announced that he had
signed a deferred deportation act
that could allow tens of thousands
of undocumented youth to remain
in the U.S. without fear of deportation
and grant them the right
to apply for work permits. The
policy could provide relief from
deportation for approximately
800,000 young immigrants.

According to a Department of
Homeland Security fact sheet, in
order to be eligible for deferred action
from deportation, individuals
• Have come to the U.S. before the age
of 16;
• Have resided continuously in the U.S.
prior to June 15 and be present in the
U.S. on this date;
• Currently be in school, have graduated
from high school, have a GED certificate
or have been honorably discharged
from the Coast Guard or U.S. armed
• Have not been convicted of "a felony
offense, a significant misdemeanor offense,
multiple misdemeanor offenses,
or otherwise pose a threat to national
security or public safety"; and
• Not be above the age of 30.

What led to this announcement?

Obama's action was a result of the
struggle of the Dreamers, the thousands
of undocumented youth who have for
more than 10 years been organizing to get
the DREAM Act passed. This piece of federal
legislation would provide legalization
for children who had come to the U.S. before
they were 15 and met other criteria.

The Dreamers have boldly and bravely
come out as "undocumented and unafraid."
They have held rallies and demonstrations,
participated in sit-ins and
chained themselves to offices, held mock
graduation ceremonies, and made great
sacrifices to get the attention of the government
as well as the immigrant rights

Although Obama's announcement
brought instant reaction from the right
wing about granting "amnesty" to the undocumented,
immigrant rights activists
were cautious about the announcement.

Many pointed out that other announcements
favorable to the undocumented,
such as last year's statement about the
use of "prosecutorial discretion," have
not really been implemented. In fact,
immigrant groups say that
only about 1 percent of cases
were closed as a result of
such discretion.

And it is an election year.
Many are quick to question
the motives behind the announcement.

The New York State
Youth Leadership Council
declared in a press release:
"Until Obama signs
an actual executive order
promptly halting the deportation
of all undocumented
youth, youth across
the nation will continue to
occupy offices demanding
that President Obama sign
the order. The Prosecutorial
Discretion recommendation unfortunately
served as a huge disappointment
to us. For too long, undocumented youth
have served as pawns in partisan political
games." (, June 15)

The right wing, Glenn Beck and many
Republicans immediately used President
Obama's announcement to ratchet up
the anti-immigrant rhetoric. During the
news conference where Obama made his
announcement, a conservative blogger
was allowed to heckle Obama, shouting,
"What about jobs for Americans?"

This is the ultimate hypocrisy, as the
far-right is using the dire unemployment
crisis as a demagogic excuse to divide
workers. Despite the right-wing rhetoric,
Obama's announcement does not mean
legalization for the 800,000 young people
who could be affected.

A statement issued by the May 1 Coalition
for Worker & Immigrant Rights of
New York reads: "The over 14 million undocumented people in this country have
earned legalization. It is U.S. foreign and
economic policy to begin with that is the
main cause of forced migration from Latin
America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.
And this announcement comes as we
await the outcome of the Supreme Court
ruling on Arizona's SB1070, which is racial
profiling on steroids. A favorable ruling
[for the undocumented] is not expected;
that decision would result in driving
the undocumented further underground
open to more extreme exploitation such
as massive wage theft."

The statement continues: "The president's
announcement also comes as the
militarization of the U.S./Mexican border
continues, resulting in more deaths
at the border. And our youth continue
to be targeted, including deaths such as
that of Trayvon Martin and Anastacio
Hernandez-Reyes." (To get a copy of the
statement or to find out more about the
coalition, visit

The slogan "Si se puede" (Yes, we can)
became a national rallying cry in 2006
as a result of the massive upsurge of immigrants
marching for their rights. "Si se
puede" continues to be a demand today. It
should be matched with "The struggle continues"
(La lucha continua) as immigrants
and their supporters are determined to
win not only legalization for all the undocumented,
but all workers' rights — not just
for the youth looking to get into college,
but also for every day laborer, domestic
worker or construction worker around the
country. Clearly a massive people's power
movement that unites all workers in a fight
for their lives is urgently needed.

Gutierrez is the co-coordinator
of the May 1 Coalition for Worker
& Immigrant Rights of New York.

An opposite take by the Stalinist Progressive Labor Party:

Obama's Immigration Fraud: Backdoor Draft of Latino Youth?

Friday, June 22, 2012 at 8:11AM

Obama's recent order, Deferred Action, to delay some deportations of undocumented immigrants (see back page) constitutes a classic capitalist Big Lie. (The Big Lie refers to Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic and anti-communist propaganda technique based on the idea that "the great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.")

This is an attack on workers masquerading as a benefit. It comes from the president who has deported more than 1.4 million workers, more than any administration in U.S. history. According to the bosses' top liberal mouthpiece, the New York Times (6/17/12), Obama is bringing "joy and relief" to undocumented Latino workers by delaying deportations for a small minority.

In reality, however, the edict has several anti-working class aims. These include re-electing war-maker Obama, sustaining racist, low-wage exploitation, and fostering "government-as-savior" patriotism, particularly encouraging military service among Latino youth.

The fact that the new policy targets only 800,000 of the 12 million workers that the bosses label "illegal" exposes Obama's resolve to keep squeezing super-profits from the masses of undocumented workers. Farm work, the main destination of those without papers, pays workers at less than half the rate of other industries. Obama's "kindness" relegates these mainly Latino workers to rock-bottom pay and wretched living conditions under the unrelieved threat of deportation.

The Times shamelessly praises Obama's opportunist immigration ploy to lure Latino workers to the polls as "a play for a key voting bloc in the states that will decide whether he gets another term" (6/16/12). The Times speaks for the dominant, imperialist faction of the U.S. ruling class's finance capitalists who yearn for four more years of Obama as invader/assassin-in-chief. He has been proven to be willing and ready to spill workers' blood to confront challenges to U.S. imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Russia and China.

Obama, Most Militarily Aggressive U.S. President

On April 29, the Times gave space to Peter Bergen, director of the finance-capital-backed New America Foundation, which supplies many foreign policy advisors to Obama's reelection campaign. Bergen hailed Obama as "one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades." Republican Mitt Romney, on the other hand, poses potential problems for a ruling class that requires ever-wider wars. His proposed platform of "military build-up amid tax cuts" may prove unworkable.

Obama's immigration move stands to aid U.S. imperialism's long-range plans by encouraging enlistment. On June 16, the Times editorialized that Obama has effectively revived the Dream Act, "a bill in Congress to give legal status to young immigrants who go to college or serve in the military....It is well past time to make a more sensible and humane immigration policy the law of the land." Obama's new order applies only to under-31-year-olds, and only to those "qualified" at that. It is a backdoor hunt for cannon fodder.

Further, as the Times editorialized (9/20/2010) about Latino youth, "The Defense Department, at least, understands their value." Laws moving these young people into the military "is one of its official goals for helping to maintain 'a mission-ready, all-volunteer force.'"

Meanwhile, the rulers' racist practices, like New York's stop-and-frisk policy and state anti-immigrant laws that encourage racial profiling, produce arrest records that would disqualify — and deport — the very same Latino youth whose Obama's edict would supposedly free.

Most dangerous of all is Obama's attempt to obscure the reality of class antagonism. As worldwide imperialist rivalry intensifies, U.S. rulers need greater all-class unity in support of overseas wars and a domestic police state, both of which run directly against workers' interests. So Obama & Co. trot out the myth that government can serve and protect our class.

Obama Using Latino Workers As An Election Ploy

The Times hopes that Obama's latest trick will lead millions of Latino workers to look to him as a compassionate savior: "It sent a clear signal to fast-growing Hispanic populations in Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and other states that he understood their frustration at his lack of progress so far in addressing problems with the immigration system and reducing the number of deportations" (6/16/12). Obama seeks their votes in these key battleground states to put him over the top in November's election.

Gary Hart, a leading pro-Obama strategist for U.S. imperialists, co-authored the revealing Hart-Rudman reports commissioned by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Those reports foresaw the 9/11 attacks in stating that an attack on the U.S. homeland would transform popular post-Vietnam anti-war opposition into support for the rulers' new imperialist adventures. But the ruling class overestimated 9/11's potential to "galvanize the nation" into patriotic fervor for drawn-out wars that would create a consolidated, fascist state apparatus.

Hart-Rudman led to the the creation of Homeland  Security which spread fear and anti-Muslim racism. It also helped acceptance of the Big Lie of weapons of mass destruction and of the invasion of Iraq. 

At the time, Hart underestimated workers' growing disillusionment with capitalist political leaders and wars as the workers became more and more improverished. He hopes Obama can reverse the trend. On the eve of Obama's immigration announcement, Hart wrote:

For more than four decades most Americans identified the Democratic Party with a social contract and safety net, equality of justice and opportunity, and progressive — yes, even liberal — causes....But beginning dramatically in the 1970s things changed. Things being: globalization and foreign competition; the decline of the manufacturing base; petroleum-producing nations controlling the price of oil; and the unsustainable costs of cold war military engagements and deployments....The Democratic response…cost the party its identity.... A well-motivated Democratic president now struggles to move the nation forward against a conservative tide that emerged in the policy vacuum created by Democratic failure to adapt (NYT, 6/15/12).

President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal won him working-class support for World War II. Civil rights laws helped Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson win support for genocidal war in Vietnam, though the war eventually turned workers against U.S. rulers. As November approaches and the capitalists' profit scramble sharpens into regional (Syria and Iran) and global (Russia and China) wars, watch out for more double-edged "blessings" from Obama.

Don't Fall for U.S. Rulers' Big Lies

We must win workers to learn from this history of ruling-class ploys and help them to resist being sucked into imperialist wars that kill our working-class sisters and brothers worldwide. We must lead them to support these workers' struggles against global capitalist exploitation.

Progressive Labor Party has long championed immigrant workers' battles against racist super-exploitation, from window manufacturing workers in Chicago to garment workers and aerospace parts workers in Los Angeles to farm workers in California's San Joaquin Valley. We must step up such class struggle and unite immigrant workers with black, Asian, white and all Latino workers in all the mass organizations in which we participate.

Multi-racial unity is essential to organizing a communist revolution that will destroy the bosses and their profit system which sucks the blood of our class. Then we can create a society run by and for the working class, producers of all value, which will be shared according to need. That is PLP's goal. Join us.

And a Trotskyist view:

Obama's cynical gesture to immigrant youth
18 June 2012

President Obama on Friday announced a new policy under which the Department of Homeland Security will carry out on an interim basis a more lenient deportation regime against undocumented young people who were brought to the United States by their parents.

The announcement was both cynical and self-serving, aimed at boosting the stock of the Democratic Party in the 2012 elections without seriously addressing the fundamental issue of democratic rights for undocumented workers and their families. Coming amid worsening job figures, it was part of an attempt by the Obama administration to change the subject from the economic devastation facing millions of Americans.

The new directive applies to undocumented immigrants who were under 16 when they came to the United States and who meet other specific conditions: they must be enrolled in school or graduated from high school, or honorably discharged from the military, and they must have no criminal record, even misdemeanors. Those who meet these requirements will be allowed on a case-by-case basis to register with the government to avoid deportation and obtain a work permit. Ultimately, only 800,000 of the estimated 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US are expected to qualify.

The announcement produced scenes of rejoicing in some immigrant neighborhoods, but workers and young people must beware of the false posture of the administration. This supposed boon to young immigrants has the potential to become a Trojan horse.

To receive the two-year relief from the threat of deportation, young undocumented immigrants must register with the Department of Homeland Security, effectively declaring themselves to be "illegal" and making them easier targets if and when a new directive comes from the White House, either from Obama himself or from his Republican opponent Mitt Romney, should Romney win the November election.

Once registered, immigrants still have no path to citizenship and their legal status is only temporary. Even if there is no immediate double-cross, the condition of the newly registered would represent only the regularization of their status as an exploited underclass. Obama is declaring these immigrant youth good enough to work for the minimum wage or less, but not entitled to basic democratic rights, let alone full citizenship.

In the course of his 2008 election campaign, Obama fostered hopes among immigrant workers and youth of a more humane immigration policy. Once in office, however, his administration has driven immigration enforcement to new heights of brutality. By 2011, the Department of Homeland Security was deporting 400,000 immigrants a year, an all-time record. Since Obama entered the White House, his administration has deported an estimated 1.2 million immigrants.

In his statement Friday, Obama claimed that he changed the policy because, "It's the right thing to do." To encourage illusions that he was willing to fight for comprehensive reform, he called it "a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief." This couldn't be farther from the truth.

On immigration, as on countless other issues, Obama dropped his election promises and pursued a policy just as right-wing as that of the Bush administration, if not even more reactionary. In 2008, Obama won two-thirds of the Latino vote, but polls now show that 59 percent of Hispanic voters disapprove of the administration's merciless deportation policy.

Thus, after three years of devoting massive federal resources to enforcing immigration laws and deporting undocumented workers, Obama has now dusted off his "moral" compass and declared his sympathy for undocumented immigrant youth. Where was this sympathy before June 15, 2012? The executive order Obama announced that day could have been issued on January 20, 2009, when he took office.

The order to temporarily halt certain types of deportation is one of a series of actions, like Obama's supposed "evolving" position in support of gay marriage, in which the White House has made a conveniently timed embrace of a policy appealing to part of the electoral base of the Democratic Party in an effort to disguise its consistently reactionary and anti-working-class record.

For their part, the Republicans have pandered openly to racist and anti-immigrant bigotry. During the Republican primary campaign, Romney and his rivals denounced any lessening of the repression of immigrants and sought to outdo each other in demanding higher and longer fences along the US-Mexico border.

In fact, there are no significant or principled differences between the two big business parties on the question of immigration. Both uphold the persecution of immigrants and oppose any extension of democratic and citizenship rights. Both parties do the bidding of the financial aristocracy, which profits financially from the super-exploitation of immigrant workers and profits politically from dividing the working class along ethnic and language lines.

The Socialist Equality Party upholds the principle of the international unity of the working class. The working class is the only social force whose interests are not tied to the maintenance of national borders. We reject the "America First" chauvinism of the Democrats, Republicans and trade unions. We call for full democratic rights for all undocumented workers, including citizenship for those who want it. Workers must have the right to live and work in whatever country they choose, without discrimination or persecution.

David Brown and Patrick Martin


  1. The article is ow on the Front of the Workers World Website.

    1. thanks, link here: