Amnesty for All
By Carole Seligman
The following is a speech delivered by Carole Seligman for Bay Area United Against War, to the People United for General Amnesty march and rally held April 10, 2006 in San Francisco. The demonstration was organized by parents from a local community childcare center, Companeros Del Barrio, in San Francisco’s Mission District—a predominately Spanish speaking community.
The parents, mostly immigrant workers, met and formed a committee to organize this demonstration and succeeded in bringing out close to ten thousand people mostly by word of mouth and announcements from Spanish language radio stations.
They have called for another action May 1st at 5:00 p.m. in front of the Federal Building, at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, here in San Francisco, calling for General Amnesty for All.
When the United States sent planes to bomb Afghanistan they crossed many borders. When they sent ships, planes, and soldiers to Iraq they crossed many borders. When they sent their money and agents to Venezuela to try to overthrow its democratically elected President Hugo Chavez, they crossed borders. When they sent their economic hit men into Iran, Iraq, Panama, Bolivia, and countries all over the world to profit U.S. corporations, they had no problems with borders. And, when they exploit the resources of Africa, Asia, and Latin America—including the most precious resource of all, the labor power of the workers, of all those continents—they take no heed of borders.
Not at all. No, the very idea of borders, walls, and fences—the idea that some people are legal and others are not—is a lie that is used for only one purpose—to divide working people by national origin in order to exploit them and keep all workers’ wages low.
We working people do not recognize the borders set up by the rich. We know that they are wrong. And just as the government has no right to wage war against the people of Iraq, no right to send working people here to kill working people there, the government has no right to make laws declaring some people—immigrants—“illegal.”
What is an illegal person, a person without papers, in a country made up entirely of immigrants? Immigrants from every part of the world, who came here for better opportunities for survival than they could get at home (except the Indians who were already here and except the Africans who were kidnapped and brought here against their will).
We say: No person is illegal! This movement for amnesty is a profound and powerful source of inspiration to all who struggle for justice. These demonstrations are the biggest in the whole history of California.
The government wants to use you. They want to trade citizenship and papers, for your willingness to fight the rich man’s war in Iraq and sacrifice your sons and daughters to that war. They want you to allow them to recruit your children to fight their dirty wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to cross those borders, in exchange for citizenship.
Passing laws against your rights to live and work here serves only their need to exploit you. The working people of North America gain nothing from these laws, from false borders between people. We say No! to exploitation and borders established for the wealthy to exploit the workers.
Amnesty for all! No one is illegal!