Post-Occupy, there's one cause that should unite the Left: The demand for sweeping, effective immigration reform
In the aftermath of Occupy, the Left in the United States is adrift. Without a wider structuring project, most of us have either receded from activism or delved entirely into local struggles. On the national horizon, major goals seem nonexistent: many of the bigger demands thought possible by the Left at the beginning of the Obama administration have now been shunted to the side, and the expansive social transformation evoked by many in Occupy, while still in the embers, is not manifested in large daily protests.
One of the most consistently newsworthy developments in this lull, however, have been the Dream Activists: young undocumented immigrants seeking to enforce the United Nations-declared universal human right to a nationality. And certainly, the mass deportations of the past decade – 1.5 million and counting under Obama – have been one of the greatest, and largely unnoticed, moral affronts of our time.
The Occupy movement was often maligned for its lack of racial diversity. In some sections, this was acknowledged as a legitimate topic for discussion, and when it occurred, several reasons were posited, with two coming up most: the mass criminalization of black and brown men, and the climate of fear that describes the lives of the nation’s undocumented immigrants. Yet a critical mass within Occupy never emerged to make this the central focal point of the movement.
This is unfortunate because one of the most emancipatory and transformative visions that the Left can offer today is a vision of equitable citizenship for all.
In a President that has claimed expansive executive authority, there is the opportunity to demand, without any sense of future gratitude, that there is no other option other than full and total amnesty, now. As the political class debates some form of violently inadequate immigration “reform” – current proposals include an eight-year twisting and craggy path to citizenship, increased militarization of the border, no real end to deportations, and the creation of an odious “guest worker” program – our response must be a categorical rejection of the state to attempt to write its power on the bodies of the dispossessed.
Like all “issues,” this one is fundamentally interconnected: there is not a single more effective policy change right now that could begin the reversal of a quarter century of wage stagnation for the vast majority of the population. Because having at least ten million of this country’s population entirely outside of the domain of legality has a significant downward pressure on wages.
If one does not have a single recourse against the boss, and the boss has a right to not only take away your livelihood but also your community and family, then it is highly unlikely that you will make demands on him. Dismantling this climate of fear by moving towards a system of mass citizenship and open borders would empower workers to demand what is owed them by their bosses, producing significant upward pressure on wages.
In a quick survey of leading immigration reform groups one sees a demand for Obama to end deportations through executive action, but the broader political impact of a campaign to end deportations is limited. It’s hard to shake the feeling that a campaign for full citizenship rights for all would be more effective than a campaign against the human rights violations created by deportations. Call it Sojourner Truth versus Harriet Beecher Stowe. And the potential for the activist left’s growth through such a demand, that is, for full citizenship rights for all, is considerable. Making it so people are able to come out of the shadows without fear of retribution is integral to the construction of an activist left that includes people of diverse countries of origin.
No matter what, the current state of affairs is untenable, it must change, and there is only one solution: end this racist migration policy, end it now, and end it once and for all. At last, and forever.
Not one more deportation, not one more parentless child, not one more worker to terrified to demand her or his right to organize. How do we do it? The Dream Activists have provided a welcome example.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11