|Written by La Voz de Los Trabajadores – By Samaria and Ernesto|
|Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:09|
The President’s announcement of the deferment of deportations has been seen as a beacon of hope for many undocumented families, as they celebrate the possibility that their children can now finish school and thus achieve and be part of the American Dream, even as it is failing to convince more people than ever of its possibility. But this beacon of light may very well be a misleading illusion and a trap.
The fight for equality for the immigrant and undocumented community has been a long one in America and unfortunately, it has been plagued by concessions and continued attacks against this community from the state and the capitalist parties of the Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats funneled the movement for immigration reform into calling for the federal DREAM act, which allows for a path to permanent residency primarily through military service or the unattainable two-year college degree. And this new move by Obama, which is not even an executive order, but rather a “policy change”, has effects that deeply undermine future movement building, as well as the status and conditions for this community.
This policy is referred to as “Deferred Action”, which allows for undocumented individuals to be granted deferment from deportation and a work permit for two years so long as they have proof that they fulfill the following requirements:  they entered the country when they were fifteen years or younger,  are currently in school, seeking a GED or have served in the military,  are currently under the age of thirty, and  have been in the country for five consecutive years prior to filling in a $465 application that will be reviewed case by case. After the two years, the applicant would have to renew his/her application and pay the $465 fee again.
Besides the temporary relief from deportation, which is not guaranteed, the possibility of work permits being granted offers the illusion that a small battle has been won towards winning the bigger fight. But who is benefiting from such policy? Is this a victory or a trap doorfor the struggle of the undocumented and immigrant community?
The requirements of this “Deferred Action” is very similar, if not identical, to the very strict bureaucratic requirements of the federal DREAM Act, so it is likely that the DREAMers of the undocumented community are the ones who would be benefiting from this policy. However, not all those who self-identify as DREAMers would benefit from this deferred action. Not everybody who shares the common dream of a pathway to permanent residency and access to a higher education arrived to this country before the age of fifteen nor has had access to education. Currently, only nine stateswithin the United States have a policy that exempts undocumented students from paying significantly higher out-of-statetuition at community colleges and allows them to pay the same cost as a resident. Here in California, this bill is referred to as Assembly Bill 540. Although this bill is exclusive, it is the only reason why a few undocumented students can realistically pursue a higher education.
But what about states, like Arizona, who do not exempt students from the ridiculously expensive out-of-state tuition fees? The deferred action was not welcome in the same way in Arizona as it was here because affording a two-year college degree is so out of reach. The reality of the undocumented students is the harsh world of low income families, the most vulnerable sector of the working class where everybody is required to support the family, who receives no state assistance, while facing the threat of deportation at all times causing a sense of urgency to their decision to join the military. The pressure of their financial situation and physical safety can lead to such desperation that joining the military and going to war can seem like the only option to become eligible for this “Deferred Action”. Therefore, this policy not only creates more workers for this Capitalist state to exploit, but creates a pipeline of new military recruits forced to work and die for the ruling class of the country: the business elite.
Obama’s policy change is a dangerous one. In addition to it being a voluntary (and indeed paid for) listing with Homeland Security, it is actually a heavy blow to the struggle. The policy means that parents are essentially accepting that they are criminals. Why? Because the policy forgives their children. It basically is saying that the children are victims of their parents’ action; that the parents that brought their children are the criminals. The implications of this are quite worrisome.
The policy is also divisive to the undocumented community. It further separates the fight of the undocumented youth from the fight of the undocumented community as a whole. The DREAMers have been leading the fight in the undocumented community, but it is a fight that has been dwindling down and becoming ultra-specialized. Now that support is being thrown behind this deferment, it risks not only individuals’ deportation, but also the deportation of the fight. So, ironically, as families push their youth to sign up in hope that they may get a job and help the family and get ahead in society or simply get by, they are actually putting in risk the future of all undocumented people! This is through no fault of the undocumented community though, but rather because of the deceitful nature of this policy and of the Democratic Party in general. What we must realize is that organizing around this policy is not only NOT the way to fight but is actually the way to STOP the fight.
In addition, there is no guarantee that Homeland Security will not use the information of the undocumented applicants to deport them in the future; therefore, this policy creates fresh blood for the war machine and a guest worker program at home and does nothing for access to higher education. As socialists, our mission is to fight for legalization for all and the proper appropriation of profit and for a united working class to fight for their interest against the tyranny of monopoly and violence. We therefore reject the deferred action as a way to push forward the fight for the undocumented and immigrant community.
During the 2008 elections, the president promised immigration reform within his first year of presidency, with which he gained a significant portion of the Latino vote. Four years later the Democratic Party has not pushed forward any immigration bill while the number of deportations have increased. In fact, according to ICE reports, under Obama’s administration, 1.4 million people have been deported within the past four years, while in comparison Bush deported 2 million people within his eight years of presidency. This means that Obama has deported more than half the amount of people Bush did in half the time. Yet, as the electoral period approaches, he has been recently praised for “taking a small step in the right direction” for the “Dream Deferment”. The truth though is that this policy is just another political strategy to gain votes. Furthermore, given the recession, the undocumented and immigrants provide the perfect backs on which Obama and the Capitalist class can rest the most drastic weight of this crisis.
The president hopes that the Congress will pass the federal DREAM Act before the deferment action period ends, but offers no backup except possibly extending the deferment. Obama was also clear in pointing out, “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship.” So what is it really? What is it? The answer is: a very expensive and delayed ticket south of the border.
But this is not the only attack launched by the Democratic Party on the undocumented and immigrant community. Despite the common misconception that the Democrats are allies to the the working class, the Democratic Party pushes forward just as many anti-immigrant and anti-worker policies as the Republican Party. Democrats have supported mandating the E-Verify program, the exclusion of coverage under Obamacare, the omission of the undocumented from the the stimulus tax refunds and the increase in check-points in our communities. All this adds up to the conclusion that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are allies: both are pushing forward the project of the ruling class which requires a divided and easily exploitable working class.
This is why we must all organize to fight back and demand real change. A united mass movement to fight for immediate legalization and an end to police discrimination! An end to car compounding! For proper and accessible healthcare! For equal and quality education! Accessibility to state resources for all people! For access to employment without fear of deportation or discrimination! A mass movement of all workers & students regardless of legal or documented status! Regardless of nationality! We must push forward these demands in all fronts of struggle, be it in labor, education or anti-war movement! A united front to counter our common enemy-the racist, sexist, exploitative, tricky Capitalist class—is necessary! We must not allow ourselves to be divided or sold out. The failure of one is a failure for all. Victory comes to a united class!