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News :: Human Rights : International : Labor
Boston Delegation to the World Social Forum 2007 in Nairobi Kenya Proposes Intercontinental Unity in the Struggle for Migrant Workers Rights in the World
22 Jan 2007
This activity seeks to demonstrate the need to join forces in the world to confront the injustices of a condition created by contemporary capitalism: large masses of migrant workers desperately seeking work to survive. In that process they are abused, victimized, exploited and discriminated.

[Read more about WSF in Kenya at Global Indymedia: Download radio/audio files at:]
[Article reposted from WSF Boston Delegation web site]

The U.S. has large masses of exploited undocumented workers, nearly 12 millions in all. Yet, the "immigrant rights" movement in the U.S. has not joined in with the rest of the world but it must. We propose that May Day 2007 be a point of departure from that erroneous tactic and ask people of the world to join in a campaign where International Workers Day is dedicated to the rights of migrant workers of the world. Meanwhile, in the US a strike and boycott as the one implemeted this year should also be attempted.

The 20th century saw many attempts to control immigration into the U.S. The Emergency Quota
Act of 1921 gave priority to immigrants of European descent. The Immigration Act of 1924 and
the National Origins Formula of 1929 excluded Asian immigrants but opened the doors to
workers from the Americas. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 opened a small door
for Asian immigration, but gave the government the power to deport "illegal" immigrants
suspected of "communist" ideas. In 1965 another major immigration act discontinued quotas
based on national origin, gave preference to immigrants with relatives in the U.S., but also
restricted immigration from Mexico for the first time in U.S. history. In 1986, President Ronald
Reagan, a Republican, signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act granting amnesty to
"illegal" immigrants who had been in the U.S. before 1982 but made it a crime to hire "illegal"
immigrants. Thus began the era of what immigration rights activists are calling the
“criminalization of low wage immigrant workers”.

Criminalization of immigrants has led to the militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico,
resulting in over 4000 deaths of people trying to enter the United States since “Operation Hold
the Line” began in 1993. In 1996, President William Clinton, a Democrat, signed the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act that toughened sanctions against
undocumented migrant workers and significantly increased the number of armed patrols on the
border with Mexico. In 1997, after Clinton dispatched Marines to the border, a 17 year old U.S.citizen, Ezequiel Hernandez, was shot dead while herding his sheep. All these developments
have encouraged political and media support for armed groups of vigilantes calling themselves
the “Minutemen” who “patrol” the border, creating ever more dangers for migrants trying to find
work in the U.S.

Today there are 12-15 million undocumented immigrant workers in the United States. Globally,
there are at least 200 million workers employed legally or “illegally” outside their country of
birth. This huge itinerant labor force of workers, most of whom cannot sustain their families in
their countries of origin, is in large part the result rich country policies that end up impoverishing poorer parts of the world. Among the North’s poverty-inducing policies are the structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, policies that forced developing countries into deepening debt even as they diverted government funds from health and education spending into debt servicing. Then came the current pressure for free trade agreements that attempt to open poorer countries’ borders to multinational corporations products, including massively subsidized agricultural products. Free trade among very unequal competitors inevitably kills infant industries in poor countries and often badly damages or destroys well-established manufacturing and small farmers’ enterprises as well.

During his last visit to the Boston Area L.A. immigrant rights leader Jesse Diaz was asked to join this effort and he accepted. Four other local activists will form the delegation to Nairobi: Dorotea Manuela, Jeanne Koopman, Thomas Ponniah and Sergio Reyes.

The World Social Forum will take place from January 20, 2007 to January 25, 2007.

To read the proposal in full, go to:
See also:

This work licensed under a
Creative Commons license.
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