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Vol. 74/No. 27      July 19, 2010

Obama scapegoats immigrant workers
(front page)
In a July 1 speech on “comprehensive immigration reform,” President Barack Obama opposed calls for a moratorium on deporting undocumented workers. Instead, he said “the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable.”

While none of the measures Obama outlined in the speech at American University in Washington, D.C., are new, the anti-working-class character of his “reform” proposals came through clearly.

In spite of stepped-up enforcement of existing anti-immigrant laws and the passage of new ones like in Arizona, protests for immigrant rights have continued. Over the past several years hundreds of thousands of working people have taken to the street in demonstrations across the United States to demand an end to immigration raids and to call for granting papers to undocumented immigrants.

Paraphrasing the arguments of some fighters for immigrant rights, Obama asked, “Why should we punish people who are just trying to earn a living?” The U.S. president called this a mistaken “sense of compassion” and a “moral” argument that should be rejected.

He claimed that legalizing undocumented workers without first making them “admit that they broke the law,” register, pay fines, and learn English—before being allowed to even get in line for papers, much less be guaranteed papers—would make “a mockery of all those who are going though the process of immigrating legally.”

Obama said that deporting 11 million people without papers is not in the interest of the capitalist class. “Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive,” he said.

Immigration is key for boosting the profits of big business and competing with capitalists in other countries. Obama noted that a younger immigrant workforce “is a powerful advantage in global competition.”

The U.S. president called for making it easier for immigrants with skills needed to maintain the competitive edge of U.S. businesses or who have money to invest in capitalist enterprises to come to the United States. He called them the “best and the brightest.”

In his speech, Obama criticized Arizona’s latest anti-immigrant law because he is opposed to “a patchwork of local immigration rules—where we all know one clear national standard is needed.” He did not say what standard he proposes.

Answering some right-wing critics who say that the White House has been too soft on immigrants, Obama boasted that “we have more boots on the ground near the southwest border than at any time in our history,” referring to stepped up militarization and immigration patrols of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Obama blamed Republicans for not working with him and other Democrats to put together an immigration reform.
Related articles:
Nebraska town votes to adopt anti-worker law  
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