A project of the Center for Community Change

UFCW Hunts ICE – The new class war

The United Food and Commercial Worker Union is suing ICE to stop immigration raids.

“Workers were denied access to phones, bathrooms, families and legal counsel. Some were handcuffed and held for hours. Others were shipped out on buses,” Hansen said in a copy of his planned remarks.

Thousands of workers, citizens and legal residents who broke no law, committed no crime and who were not even alleged to have broken a law or committed a crime were criminalized for showing up at work, and they and their families suffered the horrible consequences,” Hansen said. [re: UFCW lawsuit against ICE concerning SWIFT raids]

The rights of migrant workers are the rights of all workers. Anyone looking at the landscape of our workforce today can see that the movement for migrant rights that cuts across borders and industries is opening up new terrain for class struggle in the US.  If migrant workers don’t have rights, all workers’ rights are in danger.

The UFCW’s lawsuit not only highlights damages against migrant workers in the Swift raids of 2006, but it highlights the connection of their experience with those of other workers in the plant. Americans that watched the raids from afar (with Rush Limbaugh taking up one of the more prominent spaces on the couch) saw only what they wanted (or were told) to see: “illegal” migrant workers being targeted by ICE- “good riddance” was the chorus.

How blind can they be. The truth is, when ICE targets factories, homes, or schools- they don’t just target migrants, they target us all. Families come under suspicion, legal permanent residents are misidentified and deported, citizen children are abandoned, economies that rely on migrant and citizen workers are disrupted or destroyed. The face of suffering isn’t migrant alone, it’s human and American and cuts across race and creed, if not class.

Now, white workers may not be mistaken as undocumented, but their livelihood, rights and industries are put at risk as their migrant co-workers are targeted. Raids don’t make us stronger, they rip our communities and families apart at the seams, and undermine our communal values.

The American worker is in danger, but not from their migrant counterparts sweating alongside them in our nation’s factories and warehouses. The real danger is the scapegoating, lies, and mistruths that are pushed on the American worker. [re: lies, just check out what the Coalition for the Future of the American Worker is shoveling] Fighting migrant workers won’t get American workers better wages, better protections, or better jobs. As long as their is exploitation for some, there is exploitation for all.

What will class struggle look like in the US in 2020? It will be multiracial and multinational. As corporations cut borders and manipulate international trade agreements, workers will meet the fight if we can overcome the racist and fear-filled factions that attempt to divide and conquer us.

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