Immigration Reform Is Still Possible — With a Strong Social Movement

A year ago, it seemed possible that the country might get its first truly positive immigration reform since the 1986 “Reagan amnesty.”

The incoming Biden administration was proposing legislation that would allow most of the country’s 10 to 11 million undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status. The outline was later included in Build Back Betterbill, but the Democrats had the to reduce the reform to gain approval from Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian. Senate reconciliation process. The Democrats’ most recent proposal was just a limited parole for some 6.5 million immigrants, and even that concession wasn’t enough for MacDonough. She nixed the planDecember 16

This latest setback in immigration reform occurred less than a week after the previous one. Biden administration restarted one of Donald Trump’s most vicious anti-immigrant policies, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as “Remain in Mexico.” President Biden terminated the program in January but bowed to an August federal court order to restore it. MPP forced thousands upon thousands of asylum seekers into dangerous northern Mexico areas. Human rights organizations have reported more. 1,500 crimesTrump is against these asylum seekers

Meanwhile, the White House has continued another Trump policy on its own — the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of would-be migrants under Title 42of the U.S. Health Code. The administration also adopted the U.S. health code on December 16. withdrewNegotiations to settle lawsuits brought forward by separated migrant family members under the Trump administration. This seemed to be a response. unhinged criticismMedia and right-wing politicians

2021 didn’t bring anything like the progress many immigrants and their allies were hoping for. But sustained grassroots organizingIn 2022, it could be a turning point.

Collective Action

The failure to win reform this year certainly isn’t the fault of the immigrant rights movement. Through constant organizing and mass actions such as the 2006 “Day Without an Immigrant”Protests by immigrant activist have gained popular support up to the point where a majority of likely votersNow, I support legalization of most undocumented immigrants. It’s unlikely that the Biden administration would have included a progressive immigration proposal in its agenda without the years of activism by immigrants themselves.

They certainly deserve some of the blame for the failure to elect Democratic centrists. Even a progressive Democratic Party would have had to face major hurdles in the current U.S. political system. anachronistic electoral proceduresA Congress bound by obscure rules and traditions, a judicial systems packed with reactionary judgesAnd a corrupt political class barely disguised bribesThe superrich.

Under these conditions, even moderate and popular demands can’t be won through elections alone, whether they concern global issues like climate changeSpecifically, U.S. issues such as gun-control measures. The country is in a bind and can only be resolved by a strong social movement. It should be as militant and broad as the civil rights movement of 1960s and 1950s.

Progressive politicians acknowledge this. This is what progressive politicians are saying. joint interviewNoam Chomsky, the Laura Flanders Show in October, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) emphasized the need to “reengage our capacities outside our electoral system, whether it’s withholding labor or other sorts of grassroots actions.” She noted that “there is a point of collective action that becomes too difficult for the ruling class to ignore, because it then starts to threaten their legitimacy.”

A Injury to One

There’s already a wide area of agreement among progressives which can serve as a minimum program for such a movement. One example is Bernie Sanders’s list of priorities in what he calls the “fight for economic, racial, social and environmental justice for all.” The political class tends to dismiss Sanders’s proposals as too radical, and yet the Vermont senator remains one of the nation’s most popular politiciansIt is far more popular than right-wingers such as former President Trump.

Undocumented immigrants are not legal, but they do represent 3 percentThey make up about 5% of the U.S. workforce, but they are more important than their numbers suggest. About 12% of the undocumented workforce are not documented. 4.6 percent of the country’s labor force and account for more than 20 percentMany low-wage jobs in construction and service are held by these workers. Some 5.5 million undocumented workers are employed in sectors the U.S. government has designated as “essential.” The undocumented also play a major role in their communities. About 16.7 millionNearly half of Americans have at least one family member who is not documented. In New York City, there are more than a dozen. 1 million people — 12 percent of the city’s total population — live with one or more undocumented immigrants.

The undocumented and their families are most affected by a lack of legal status. However, many other people are also affected. The lack of labor protections reduces wages for unauthorized workers — by some 11.5 percent, according to one estimate — but it also creates a drag on wages for other workers in the same occupations. Denying the undocumented affordable health care endangers the rest of the population; the pandemic has been a powerful reminder that viruses and bacteria don’t check immigration status as they spread from person to person. The constant threat of deportation is a major concern. emotional and psychological stressNot only for immigrants and their families, but also for communities that depend on their labor. small businessesThey run, on their helpIn health care and homecare, and other services. other servicesThey provide.

These secondary effects of keeping millions of people out of legal status constitute a perfect illustration of the old Wobbly slogan: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Combating Xenophobia

The greatest injury lies in the rulers’ use of anti-immigrant fervor to keep working people, both recent arrivals and those born here, from uniting in their own interests.

Working people have been held back by their prejudices throughout American history, including xenophobia. It has plagued the country. since colonial timesIt operates in tandem with racism. In recent decades, most immigrants have been people of color, including Blacks, who suffer from. even worse treatmentThey are more likely to be assimilated than other migrants. But with immigrants, racists don’t need to disguise their racism with code words and dog whistles: popular discourse already vilifies immigrants as “aliens” and “illegals.” Thus, Fox NewsHost Tucker Carlson only gets a slap on the wrist when he rants that immigration “makes our country poorer and dirtier.” Donald Trump feels free to call the presence of immigrants an “invasion,” clearing the way for a fellow bigot to gun down 22 “invaders”They tried to shop at a Texas Walmart.

Right-wing media and politicians understand the power that this rhetoric has. They knew what they were doing when they spent most of 2021 promoting a fictional “border crisis” to distract their audience from the year’s actual crises: the ongoing pandemic, climate-related disasters and Trump’s bungled self-coup.

Despite recent setbacks, there are still good prospects for a progressive mass movement. The potential was clearly evident when millions of people took to the streets in the 2020 Black Lives Matters demonstrations, the largest series of protests in the country’s history. But movement-building requires the hard work of educating and organizing, and this can’t be done without directly countering xenophobia, without recognizing that immigrants and their rights are an integral part of the struggle.

Legalization will continue to be the main focus of immigrant rights organizations. “New year, same opportunity to deliver citizenship to millions of undocumented folks,” United We Dream, a large youth-based advocacy group, tweeted on January 1. But immigrant activists also “understand that our progressive visions are interconnected,” the group’s Greisa Martínez Rosas noted in a January 6 press release.

A January 5 op-edChristine Neumann Ortiz, executive Director of Voces de la FronteraA similar perspective was presented by, a low-wage, immigrant worker center in Wisconsin. Neumann-Ortiz outlined a strategy that combines grassroots electoral work with workplace organizing, utilizing both “strategic alliances” and “the power of the strike.” She emphasized the importance of linking “the immigrant rights movement with climate justice, labor and anti-poverty movements. More solidarity is needed to advance a bold progressive national agenda.”