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.     

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 82 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 47 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 19 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.