Anti-immigration roots found in classism

On May 1, May Day rallies took place around the globe. Originally a day for unions and labor groups devoted to advocating workers' rights, May Day demonstrations in America this year took on a slightly different appearance. Propelled by Arizona's controversial new immigration enforcement law, mass deportations and stalled momentum toward reform, more than one million protesters took to the streets across America. Many of them were focused on the situation in Arizona, where misinformation campaigns about immigrants and crime have fuelled a climate of intolerance.

What stands at the heart of America's growing immigration problems however, is not racism but classism. It exists in nearly every facet of American life. These immigrants are being treated unfairly, not because of the color of their skin, but rather the size of their bank account.

Most of the 10 to 20 million estimated illegal immigrants in this country are, for the most part, law-abiding, upstanding and hardworking individuals. According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, crime in Arizona has actually dropped since the 1990s when immigrants "began pouring into the state." The state's property crime has dropped 43 percent since 1995.

The people being targeted lack the resources, financial, legal or otherwise to navigate the bureaucratic path to legal status. It is in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness that these so-called "illegals" resort to whatever means necessary to obtain a better life, a shot at the American dream. It is this same mentality that brought the pilgrims and pioneers to America, and it is the same tenacity exemplified in immigrant workers that built this country.

People opposing immigration reform and proponents of deportation over amnesty often tout that Mexican drug cartels import increased violence to American soil. However this problem will not be solved by deportation, but rather by improved border security. Years of lackadaisical border enforcement have allowed the Latin American drug cartels, criminals and "coyotes" to roam free.

Now law-abiding South and Central American immigrants are being scapegoated for failed American policy. Perhaps it is time to focus less on protecting Pakistani borders and commit more resources to defending the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

Another common argument of the opposition is that millions of American jobs are lost to immigrants, illegal or otherwise. While the 10.2 percent unemployment rate in America is unacceptably high, many immigrants are content to do the jobs that American elitism renders unsatisfactory. It is unlikely that scores of unemployed Americans would line up to wash dirty laundry or clean toilets, even in the direst of economic circumstances.

Furthermore, it is difficult to comprehend how those who fall in the top tier of the capitalistic pyramid fail to recognize the economic necessity of the population residing just above the poverty line. This lower economic stratum of society serves as a foundation for the entire system, essentially supporting the security of those existing in the upper echelons of business and politics.

The immigration debate is yet another example of the divide that continues to grow between the controlling minority and the masses in America. In a society consumed and controlled by capitalism, the only color issue is the one dealing with stacks of green. Without money, immigrants have no voice.

In order to expedite snail-pace reform, the immigrant workforce should go on a national strike. Let the capitalist fat cats running the country wash toilets, collect trash, go without taxis, sleep on dirty hotel bedding and eat from soiled restaurant dishes. And let them rear their own children for a change and send their teenage sons and daughters to war. A change in legislation would be swift.