Real Immigration Reform Would be a Giant Step Toward Workers’ Rights and Democracy

Statement by the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, July 17, 2013

Democratic Socialists of America has long fought for a swift path to citizenship for all undocumented workers and their dependents.  As socialists, it is our conviction that all those who contribute labor to a society should have the full rights of citizenship.

As of today, the Republican majority in the House remains the major obstacle to moving towards this goal.  Speaker John Boehner refuses to bring comprehensive immigration reform to the House floor unless a majority of the Republican caucus favors doing so.  By frustrating the majority will of the entire chamber, Boehner threatens to preclude any immigration reform beyond further wasteful and deadly militarization of our border with Mexico.

DSA will join the efforts of the immigrant rights and labor movement to pressure House Republicans to bring a bill to the floor that includes a clear path to citizenship for all undocumented people.  At the same time, we will work with our allies to change those parts of the Senate bill that restrict the labor rights of those on the path to citizenship, exclude large numbers of the undocumented from said path and accelerate the violent and wasteful militarization of the border.

Most of organized labor and the immigrant rights and Latino advocacy community critically support the Senate-passed S 744 — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 — because it provides a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers.  Thus, they are pushing for the House to take up  the Senate bill. While DSA understands this decision, we also will work with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) and grassroots groups who raise fundamental questions about the Senate bill itself because it promises to further militarize the border and increase the harassment of borderlands communities.

The Senate bill provides an arduous 13-year path to citizenship for the large majority — but not all — of the approximately 11 million undocumented workers.  It would grant legal status to millions of immigrants and their dependents, and allow them to work and travel without fear of deportation. But as those embarking on the lengthy road to citizenship cannot go more than 60 days without employment, the Senate bill would severely hamper immigrants from defending their rights in the workplace.  In addition, the minimum of $3,750 in fees during the path to citizenship will put full citizenship out of the reach of many.

Those who do gain legal status will be barred during their 10-year provisional waiting status from accessing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  In addition, the requirement to document continuous previous stay in the United States could bar at least three million undocumented immigrants from gaining legal status. The expanded use of the inaccurate E-Verify system would also arbitrarily exclude hundreds of thousands from gainful employment and threaten their legal status.  The bill also abandons family reunification as the primary aim of the immigration system and moves to a corporate-driven  high-tech worker visa expansion as well as a guest worker program for manual and agricultural labor.

DSA will join the immigrant rights community in working to eliminate the unjust and punitive provisions from any final bill and will join protest and lobbying efforts to get before both the House and Senate a final comprehensive immigration bill that includes provisions for immediate legal status for all undocumented peoples and an expeditious, affordable path to citizenship.

The most heinous parts of the Senate bill involve a further militarization of the border, the price Republican senators exacted for endorsing the bill. The Senate bill would add $46.3 billion in expenditure on border enforcement over the next decade, even though the annual amount spent on border enforcement already exceeds the total expenditure of all other federal security agencies. The bill calls for doubling the number of Border Patrol agents to almost 40,000 over the next ten years, It also expands the area within the United States in which Border Security can patrol, and will thus ramp up the unjust harassment of borderland communities. These programs are a financial boondoggle for military contractors and for the private prison industry.  Nor will the actions curtail undocumented immigration.

In contrast, the Senate bill continues the requirement that aspiring citizens must demonstrate English proficiency, but provides only $100 million in additional funding.  This doesn't begin to meet the needs.  An estimated 5.8 million legal permanent residents, and 6.4 million undocumented immigrants have limited English proficiency.  It would take between $11.5 and $23 billion total to equip immigrants with the language skills they need.  Instead of militarizing the border, the Congress should adequately fund opportunities for immigrants to learn English.

DSA views the struggle for just immigration reform as an integral part of the ongoing struggle for workers’ rights and for democracy.     

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 60 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 95 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 27 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.