Gray Panthers of San Francisco
May, 2006 Newsletter
Proposed Position on Immigration
The following resolutions have been proposed to the Board to represent the position of the SF Gray Panthers. Please give the Board your feedback!
A recognizable pattern in US history is that periods of high unemployment and assaults on working families’ rights and living standards are frequently accompanied by attacks on immigrants, accusing them of stealing jobs, overburdening social programs, and threatening security. These attacks, often couched in racist rhetoric, call for more secure borders, rounding up of immigrants, and withholding public protections and services.
Recent examples of this are stepped-up activity by the Minutemen, passage of California’s Prop. 187, Arizona’s Prop. 200, and other states’ legislative moves to limit vital immigrant services, such as health and translation. More recently, the House passed HR 4437, criminalizing both undocumented immigrants and those who aid them, curtailing undocumented immigrants’ minimal legal protections, giving immigration enforcement powers to local police, militarizing the US-Mexico border, and adding 700 more miles of border wall.
Along with this attack, we see the desire of business groups and corporations for a large supply of very low-wage immigrant labor in a temporary legal status that makes them too vulnerable to form unions or otherwise resist their special exploitation. This has led to proposals to create a new legal category of “guest workers” similar to the hated “bracero” program of the 1950s, when workers were under constant threat of imprisonment and deportation.
For example, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s April 3 recommendation on immigration draws on the Kennedy-McCain proposal, setting up a “guest worker” program that gives immigrants green cards if they pay $2,000 and back taxes, undergo criminal investigation, take citizenship classes—and spend at least six years in a temporary legal status. They would be under close surveillance, their status could easily be withdrawn, and they could be deported if unemployed more than 60 days. The net effect is to pit US workers against other workers, harming both.
The Judiciary Committee’s recommendation also requires all workers, citizen and immigrant alike, to have forgery-resistant ID cards, a precursor to a national identity card. It calls for more than doubling the number of Border Patrol agents. Other proposals, such as Sen. Feinstein’s DREAM Act, use the promise of a green card to induce undocumented high school students to join the military.
The San Francisco Gray Panthers opposes these developments and legislative proposals. We express solidarity with immigrants by adopting the following resolutions:
WHEREAS periods of high unemployment and assaults on working families' rights and living standards are frequently accompanied by attacks on immigrants, accusing them of stealing jobs, overburdening social programs, and threatening security. These attacks, often couched in racist rhetoric, call for more secure borders, rounding up of immigrants, and withholding public protections and services.
WHEREAS recent examples of this are sweeps of ICE raids that terrorize entire neighborhoods and split families, attacks on Day Labor Centers by the racist Minutemen, and the government's willingness to deprive Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of poor US citizens through impossible documentation requirements that were put in place to deprive undocumented immigrants of healthcare.
WHEREAS business groups and corporations want a large supply of very low-wage immigrant labor in a temporary “guest worker” status where they are too vulnerable to form unions or otherwise resist their special exploitation, similar to the hated “bracero” program of the 1950s.
For these reasons, Gray Panthers oppose these developments and legislative proposals. We express solidarity with immigrants by adopting the following resolutions, and urge our members to help implement them by talking with friends, writing letters, and attending rallies and demonstrations:
Resolution #1 Gray Panthers demand full legalization and amnesty for immigrants, immediate halt to ICE raids, and release of all who are incarcerated for immigration reasons.
Resolution # 2. Gray Panthers affirms the rights of all persons, whether citizen or immigrant, to protections of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, due process, as well as equal access to public resources. We support the redirection of the nation's resources toward the building of a healthy society for all members, wherever they are from and wherever they are.
Resolution #3, Gray Panthers opposes measures which criminalize immigrants, such as HR 4437, and programs to induct immigrants into the military.
Resolution #4. Gray Panthers opposes immigration policies such as “guest worker” programs, which create new categories of immigrant workers who are more vulnerable to economic exploitation by virtue of their temporary or conditional legality.
Resolution #5. Gray Panthers supports a living wage and dignified and safe working conditions for all workers, regardless of their citizenship, immigration status or legal status, on the basis that this protects both citizen and immigrant workers.
Resolution #6. Gray Panthers supports local and regional efforts of unions to organize workforce sectors with high concentrations of immigrants along the above principles, regardless of their documentation status and whether or not their jobs are temporary.
Resolution #7. Gray Panthers opposes free trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA, which create poverty abroad, driving immigrants into the US, and which create unemployment and reduced wages and working conditions in this country.
Resolution #8. Gray Panthers urges its members to participate in May Day marches or demonstrations for international solidarity between immigrants and citizens.