Immigrants have always been part of the U.S. working class, as these passages from the History of the American Working Class by Anthony Bimba illustrate.
“The United States IS a nation of immigrants. The colonization of America was the result of revolutionary changes taking place in the methods of producing the necessities of life which upended the old feudal system in Europe. As the old economic system and social order based on serfdom disintegrated and a new system and social order based on wage labor arose, hundreds of thousands of “free” men and women, forced from the land, migrated to the cities seeking employment, shelter and food. By the 17th and beginning of the 18th centuries, the destitute masses of Europe were ready to risk any danger to save themselves from starvation. They begged to be taken to America by the colonizers.
In the beginning the colonies were nearly all settled by “chartered” companies (corporations) with commercial purposes whose success depended on securing immigrants. The colonizers were the same commercial adventurers (speculators), capitalists, exploiters, wealth seekers, and privileged “masters” of Europe. They were given large tracts of land in America by their governments which said in effect, “Take these wretches of the cities and villages, transport them to America and exploit them to your hearts’ content.” It was these destitute workers who, along with the captive African slaves, by their blood, sweat, and tears (and lives) laid the foundation for the wealth and power of the American ruling class.”
The need for labor by the capitalist class to fuel the expanding capitalist system in America has in the past determined America’s immigration policies. Throughout the history of expansion of capitalism, workers were pitted against each other for the financial and political gain of the capitalists.
Today we are in a period of technological revolution that is destroying the foundation of capitalism. Labor-replacing, electronic production is creating a new class of workers worldwide who cannot compete with the robot.
Migrant workers today are uprooted by the corporate capitalist class as it remakes society in the age of high technology. Pushed off the land when they could not compete with high-tech corporate farming, they face the same enemy as American factory workers who are thrown out of their jobs by high-tech, computerized robots.
Immigrant and native-born workers share a common destiny of starvation if the potentially liberating new technologies are left in the hands of the corporate ruling class. This class writes the laws that make the survival activities of immigrants as well as destitute native-born workers illegal. But it is their private ownership of the production of the means of life that should be outlawed. It is a scourge on the wellbeing and future of humanity and the earth itself.
It is time for immigrants and native-born workers to unite around our common interests and target the economic system that drives millions into poverty. During the U.S. Civil War, for example, the North could not have been victorious until a good section of the American people had come to realize that it was the whole system of slavery they must destroy. Today, we have a world to win.