For Immediate Release
October 8, 2013
The Immigration Reform Movement is a Scam: How our Communities are Manipulated to promote Anti-Immigrant Legislation
On October 5, Mayor Rahm Emanuel paraded with major NGO’s like Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to promote Comprehensive Immigration Reform. On October 12, ICIRR and several other major NGO’s are mobilizing a March for Immigration Reform with Dignity and Respect. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But these two actions are part of a much broader campaign of manipulation, falsely promising that Immigration Reform legislation will “keep families together”, “legalize 11 Million people” “make our immigration system more just” and “stop deportations”. It is a scam.
Living in Chicago has taught us a few hard lessons about “Reform”. We have learned that “Housing Reform” means closing public housing, displacing thousands of poor people in the interests of greedy developers. “Education Reform” means closing the schools in poor, immigrant and Black communities in order to open up the market for privatized schools. “Health Care Reform” means closing mental health clinics serving poor people to make way for gentrification projects, funneling those left without care into the prison system. And “Immigrant Detention Reform” means opening up more detention centers and detaining more people including children, in newly built “family-friendly” prisons. “Reform” is what the domestic war looks like, a war waged against immigrants, the poor, the unemployed, women and others who can be made socially vulnerable and disposable. “Reform” is the nice-sounding way to package racism in a “post-racial” America. Rahm Emanuel is the perfect spokesperson for Reform.
The Immigration Reform movement is the newest example of oppression, violence and exploitation sold to us as a “step in the right direction”. The Immigration Reform Movement is built around Bill S744 which passed in the Senate — an anti-immigrant bill which is now almost identically copied by House Democrats in their recent proposal. This Bill’s major provisions are:
– make all immigration policy dependent on border militarization: over $46 billion will be funneled to military contractors, creating the most militarized space in US history and reinforcing xenophobic hysteria around immigration as a “national security threat”
– increase the criminalization of immigrants and push more and more people into detention, all to benefit private prison companies
– create a new version of the Bracero program that keeps immigrant workers exploitable, all to the benefit of large corporations and agribusiness;
– create a false “path to citizenship”, by inventing a new “probation” status for immigrants. This status will penalize people who fall below the poverty line, who cannot prove continuous employment, who are targetted by police, who become injured or disabled or otherwise unable to work — in other words, the vast majority of immigrants without status will be pushed into deportation
– increase surveillance and enforcement so that it becomes MUCH easier to find and deport people, increasing the efficiency of the deportation machine and Obama’s historic record as Deporter in Chief
– destroy “family unification” as a principle for visa programs (which will make it much harder for poor immigrants to petition on behalf of family members such as siblings) and replace it with a “merit system” benefiting only a select few wealthy, professional and highly educated immigrants;
– extend the violence against indigenous communities living along the border, and further violate the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations by militarizing their lands
The Immigration Reform Movement is a giant PR campaign, a way to make false promises to immigrants, while pushing legislation benefiting corporate interests that need cheap labor, disposable people and a steady supply of prisoners. These bills will do the opposite of what promoters would have us believe: they would increase deportations and detentions, push people into a permanent underclass making them more exploitable, and use immigrants as an excuse to increase domestic militarization and surveillance programs that will affect everyone. But the Reform movement is not just pushed by politicians from both parties and by right-wing think tanks: major Immigrant Rights NGO’s like ICIRR stand to benefit financially and politically from Immigration Reform, and are a key player in selling us anti-immigrant legislation as a good thing. Across the country immigrant rights NGO’s have been hard at work falsely advertising reform, deliberately misleading the public about the provisions of the bills. On October 12, ICIRR is once again calling people into the streets to support “Reform with Dignity and Justice”. This is incredibly cynical — there is no dignity in being exploited, no respect in being duped to cheer for your own oppression. The Immigration Reform Movement is anti-immigrant, anti-poor, anti-women and anti-family — all the while manipulating our communities in order to secure the immigrant vote.
More cynically, the Reform movement seeks to pacify us, to neutralize and crush grass-roots social movements. Politicians have learned that immigrant social movements are defiant and dangerous to the status quo, but the immigrant vote is a useful prize. Immigrant communities are being used as pawns in a political spectacle that seeks to convert the energy and power of social movements into political capital for politicians and the NGO’s who do their dirty work. “It is the best we can get” they say, “it is better than nothing”, and “a step forward”. Those of us who refer to the actual provisions of the legislation are accused of being divisive and unreasonable. Not once but twice, ICIRR have called the police on undocumented activists who tried to speak out against anti-immigrant policies. This has revealed to us the extent to which these organizations will collaborate with police, Homeland Security and politicians to control migrant justice activists and crush grassroots movements.
We denounce organizations like ICIRR that promote anti-immigrant legislation in order to promote their own financial and political ambitions. We remain committed to building grassroots social movements that can push back not only against the lunatic right wing, not only against the private prison contractors and corporations who profit from the lives and bodies of immigrants and the poor, but also — and more importantly — against the opportunist corporate NGO’s that are rising in power by selling us out. We can take some lessons from the social movements in Mexico: when faced with “reforms” it is not time to wave flags and cheer, it is time for resistance, time for barricades, occupations and strikes.
Moratorium On Deportations Campaign,
No Name Collective,
- Challenging DAPA and reformist politics: a workshop and discussion
- Deferred (In)Action: Where’s the solidarity with indigenous people facing militarization?
- National Poop Month Against Sell-Out NGO’s: June 2014
- What happened on May Day? ¿Que fue lo que paso en la Marcha 1ro de Mayo?
- Zé Garcia – Speech: Desirable Undesirables
Subscribe to Blog via Email