Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Nov. 21, 1996 issue of Workers World newspaper
The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service reported in late October that it has deported 67,000 undocumented workers in fiscal year 1996. That's a 34- percent increase over 1995.
In California, deportations of undocumented workers jumped nearly 50 percent--to 30,000--during this same period.
This dramatic increase in deportations is a direct result of a campaign of increased repression being carried out by the INS under the leadership of the recently reelected President Bill Clinton and the Republican-led Congress. It coincides with a right-wing campaign that falsely blames immigrants for many ills--from unemployment to school overcrowding--that are actually the fault of capitalism.
On Sept. 30 Congress passed a new immigration bill. Clinton quickly signed it. The law provides for deploying 1,200 more armed border patrol officers and hiring 900 more INS investigators with broader deportation powers.
It also denies all federally funded public-assistance programs to undocumented people, whom the law calls "illegal immigrants."
In addition, the recently passed attack on the poor known as the Welfare Reform Act threatens to deny many forms of federal assistance to legal resident immigrants. Undocumented people are already denied these services.
The key precursor to these racist and unjust laws was Proposition 187, passed in California in 1994 and now on hold pending a court decision. Proposition 187 denies education and health care to undocumented workers.
In answer to such stepped-up assaults, the immigrant communities, led by Latino immigrants, have been organizing. On Oct. 12, a nationwide protest took place in Washington. Tens of thousands of immigrants, mostly Latinos, marched and rallied for immigrant and civil rights.
This movement is reaching out to all U.S. workers by showing how dangerous it is to be divided on the basis of "legal" and "illegal" and by putting forward demands such as free public education from kindergarten through university and expanded health services.
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