USSF SECOND DAY OF WORK ON MIGRANT WORKERS RIGHTS
Atlanta, GA - 6/30/07. Everywhere you turn you will see familiar signs and symbols. As a great contradiction of the work progressives do in the U.S., places like the largest phalic-like tower of the Westin Hotel in downtown Atlanta, are full of radical and progressive activity. Other transnational corporations like the Marriott also enjoy the business of U.S. Social Forum visitors. In other less bourgeois hotels like the Super 8 Motel downtown where we are staying, we know that we are sharing the place with another large gathering, the Full Gospel Convention. Meanwhile, the taxi driver asked us what was going on at the Civic Center, because he saw people dressed in the most strange attires and didn't know what kind of religion they were representing.
All in all, it seems that the most important accomplishment of the forum is being able to meet and exchange ideas with activists from the rest of the U.S. and hopefully find ways to work together or at least coordinate actions in different localities.
The initial raw reaction to the upset of the great immigration/militarization, which was colored by a false sense of relief and even happiness, has been tempered by analysis and emotions. We have heard in the workshops the testimony of young immigrant rights activists that were literally in tears because what the saw as a "little ray of hope" has vanished.
The reality is that those in the immigrant rights movement that opposed the Senate Democrat/Republican compromise lead by Sen. Kennedy were not the ones that defeated the effort. We came out with sharp criticism of the bill and unveiled its true meaning, but that is not what determined its demise. We did not win any victory. Whether this agreement was passed or rejected we would have lost anyway. The demise has more to do with the lack of agreement at the top. The ruling class representatives didn't agree.
Now we realize that the struggle continues. The movement has been hit hard by the debate on the compromise. Now we are divided and there is still no solution to the tragedy confronted by 15 million undocumented workers. The suffering continues, the raids will continue. The deportations will continue in a painful and slow fashion. Fascism is upon us in this war against immigrants.
We know we have to continue to struggle to stop the raids and deportations. We have to stand on the way of this new war the U.S. has undertaken, the war on immigrants. Some point the way now to the presidential elections of 2008. Others, to mass actions, resistance, rapid response teams, strikes, boycotts -- very few look in the way of coordinating actions with the rest of the world that also suffers the consequences of neo-liberal policies applied by capitalism everywhere.
That will be the subject of our workshop today, Transnationalizing the Struggle for Migrant Workers Rights. We hope we will have an attendance that will think of ways to break the insular mentality of the "immigrant" rights movement and be inspired by the history of workers struggles internationally of the past, such as the one that in 1886 was able to achieve the 8-hour labor day and gave rise to May Day, May 1st. all over the world.
The workshops we attended yesterday were:
- Linking communities to stop border militarization and interior raids and deportations: a national community dialogue, by the National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights
- The II Great American Boycott, Immigrant Rights and May Day 2007, sponsored by the National Network on Cuba.
- Immigrant workers rights by the AFL-CIO
- Black Caucus on immigration by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration from Oakland.
- Plenary on Immigration Rights
- Debriefing session at the Immigrant Rights Tent.