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Immigrant Rights_Budget cuts


									                  Coming Together Across False Borders:
        Why the Immigrant Rights and Anti-Budget Cuts
                     Struggle Are One
        We live on stolen native lands. Many of us are immigrants to this country. Some justify their stay by
wielding guns and ammunition, through institutions of white supremacy and patriarchy. Many others seek unity,
communities, to live and let live.

         The current economic crisis has disproportionately affected oppressed people in this country. Wall Street
was bailed out while the rest of us were left to deal with the "jobless recovery," which continues to leave many of
us in dire financial straits.

      The immigrant rights and budget cuts struggle share a common enemy: neoliberal ideology. It is the
economic philosophy that has dominated the US and its relations with the rest of the world since the 1980s.

        Neoliberalism means the deregulation of capitalism, sweet deals for corporations over people,
collaboration between financial elites of the US and the third world, the use of military power to enforce
deregulation, and massive budget cuts to social services from Seattle to Mexico City and other parts of the world.

        The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was created as a neoliberal policy between the US,
Canada and Mexico. This agreement, supported by the Mexican elites, allows heavily subsidized US exports to
enter freely into Mexico. This displaced locally produced goods by Mexican farmers, forcing many of them to
abandon their lands. The influx of Mexican peasants into the cities is a gendered process. While men risk the
hazards of Border Patrol and the Minutemen by crossing into the US, women are disproportionately hired in the
maquiladoras of Juarez and Tijuana, exploited intensely for their labor in US-owned factories.

        Various Free Trade Agreements (FTA) have also impacted the livelihoods of people in other parts of the
world. In the Philippines, and South Korea, farmers have waged resistance and protests against the policies that
threaten to strip them of their livelihoods.

         Today, this kind of restructuring is hitting oppressed people right here in the belly of the beast. The
neoliberal attacks have not just been confined to attacks on the third world. It also encroaches on the lives of
people of color, poor folks and working class communities in the US. The ongoing privatization of universities is one
of its boldest endeavors. The same pattern persists: everyday people will pay for their own exploitation while
corporations get off with sweet deals.

          Every year there are about 65,000 youth raised in the US, who are unable to attend college because of
their undocumented status. The tuition hikes at UW will increase by 30% in two years, making college even less
accessible to low-income students who are disproportionally students of color. The K-12 public school closure in
Seattle due to budget cuts has also neglected the basic educational rights of our youth. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) and the privatization of the university work hand in hand with each other to create a Jim Crow
segregation of education for youth of color, including many immigrants. We need to assert that education is our
civil right that we have to fight for, against privatization and segregation.

The DREAM Act would legalize a small portion of undocumented students when they either complete a college
degree or two years of military service under strict conditions. With the privatization of universities, military service
becomes the more viable choice for many in the immigrant community who cannot afford tuition or are not 4.0
GPA students. While this bill may seem to be a good option for a minority of undocumented students, it is also a
tactic of divide and conquer among our immigrant communities that pits us against one another for who is more
deserving than the other for citizenship. It also serves to strengthen militarization at home and abroad. Only by
demanding full amnesty and rights for all undocumented students can we guarantee a chance to an accessible
education for every one of us.

         Privatization at the University of Washington is taking the form of union busting endeavors of the UW
administration against workers. This is most clearly exemplified by the experiences that custodians, trade workers
and teaching/research assistants experience at the university. The incredible amount of speed up and extra work
that is placed upon all workers has diminished the gains they won over the years through contract negotiations, as
have the hikes in healthcare costs. Being the 3rd largest employer in Washington State, the ability of UW to crack
down on union organizing will give a green light to the rest of Washington State to enforce further anti-labor
practices. The UW workforce is comprised of both immigrant and non-immigrant workers. The UW management,
like any other employer, plays up the racial, national, and linguistic differences among workers to weaken any
resistance against management’s policies that might cohere.

         This division between immigrant and non-immigrant workers is institutionalized by ICE, which targets and
puts down any resistance among immigrant workers, making our unity with non-immigrant workers even more
challenging. The recent ICE raid in an engineering plant in Bellingham, Washington needs to be understood also as
an anti-labor move. This is part of a pattern of busting undocumented workers who make more than what ICE
expects that they should be paid. Recent ICE raids have taken place in companies where workers are paid more
than usual, for example, in the unionized Overhill Farms, or American Apparel, and ABM janitors. The reality is that
everyone knows that the US elites need immigrant labor, and ICE legislation and enforcement is aimed at keeping
the labor cheap, maximizing profit for corporations that hire them.

       As a stance against this perpetual divide and conquer that weakens all workers in our struggles against
union busting, we have to demand an end to ICE, free borders and amnesty and rights for all undocumented

         On May Day in 2006, thousands of immigrant workers and students walked out of their schools and
workplaces, signifying how crucial we all are to the US economy and society. The walkouts were a stance against
the perpetual blaming of immigrants for the lack of jobs. In a climate of economic crisis today, it is particularly
important that we forefront immigrant rights as a way to counter the scapegoating of immigrant workers by
politicians and white supremacists. The Wall Street crisis is to blame, not workers of color.

      Most recently, tens of thousands of people showed up at Washington DC to call for immediate
comprehensive immigration reform. Many of us do not accept these attacks.

       Two months ago we witnessed and participated in the March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Public
Education. In 50 cities around the country, students walked out against the budget cuts and tuition hikes that
threaten our abilities to get an education.

          The anti-budget cuts movement needs to learn from the 2006 May Day immigrant workers general strike. It
is this sort of labor strategy and tactics that many organizers in California were pushing for, and it is this sort of
thing that we need to build nation-wide in the upcoming years if we want to actually stop these neoliberal
offensives that are coming down in the form of budget cuts.

         It is time for these two movements to come together. We are fighting the same battle against neoliberal
policies that aim to privatize our universities, split our communities apart, and imprison our youth in prisons and
ICE detention centers.

        In Seattle, WA, we are organizing a campus strike on May 3rd. Students, workers and community members
will come together to protest the budget cuts and the attacks on all people of color and immigrants. The following
are our demands.

    •     WE DEMAND equal access and affordable education! We want OUR universities and colleges to be
          affordable and accessible to undocumented immigrants, first generation college students, low-income
          students, people of color, and other marginalized communities!
    •     WE DEMAND an end to the attacks on K-12 education system on the pretext of budget cuts. Education is a
          civil right for everyone.
    •     WE DEMAND full amnesty and rights for all undocumented people. The segregation of documented and
          undocumented workers is a way to weaken the labor movement.
    •     WE DEMAND an end to ICE raids that threaten the livelihoods of immigrants and aim to tear apart
          immigrant communities.
    •     WE DEMAND an END to Budget Cuts and Layoffs of custodians and other immigrant workers on our
          campuses and in our communities!


Democracy Insurgent, For a Democratic University, Pinay sa Seattle

April 27th 2010

Seattle, Washington


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