May Day 2007
Amnesty for All! Open All borders!

By Carole Seligman

Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated across this country in spite of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) terror-raids that culminated in over 23,000 arrests of undocumented workers so far this year. This speech was delivered May 1 in San Francisco to an overwhelmingly Latino audience in the heart of the Mission District at 24th and Mission Streets after a demonstration of many thousands earlier in the day. The event was a vigil for unconditional amnesty and open borders sponsored by Barrio Unidos, a local community group. A core of at least several hundred people attended it throughout and many more came and went at this very busy intersection. Hundreds of candles were given out in little paper cups as well as hundreds of triangular, hand-made paper stadium flags, in Spanish and English, saying, “Open Borders!” which were seen throughout the crowd. The following speech was extremely well received by this energetic audience.

—The Editors

I am a schoolteacher. The names of my co-workers show that their grandparents or parents came from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Germany, England, China, Mexico, Greece, Japan, Russia, and The Philippines. In fact, unless you are Native American, your family immigrated here, even if they came on the Mayflower.

The United States is a country of immigration and crossing borders. Immigrant workers from the whole world, and slaves, built the wealth of this country. But now, the wealthy rulers of the U.S., the tiny group of billionaires who benefit from all that wealth created by immigrants and slaves, have decided that only they and their money can cross borders.

What hypocrites! Their soldiers, their weapons, their money, their pollution cross national borders every minute of every day. Do you think the Iraqi people want their borders crossed by armed attackers from the U.S.? Do you think the U.S. planes that crossed many borders to bomb their cities and villages are welcome? Do you think the Iranians are happy bracing for a U.S. attack? The Colombians, the Cubans, the Venezuelans?

We know that people leave their homes to come here for the same reasons that all previous generations of immigrants came here, for better opportunities, especially for their children. They come for the same reasons that Indians and Pakistanis come to England and Africans come to Europe. The rich countries’ trade policies destroy the economies of the other countries of the world and impoverish their people, so the people try to find a way to survive—for example, the conscious ruination of Mexican farmers because of the government-subsidized corn exported to Mexico by the U.S.

The biggest waves of immigration in world history going on now are due to these policies and the wars foisted on the poor countries.

The truth can set us free

The truth that can set us free from these predatory billionaires who are erecting military walls to keep people out, is that they are a tiny minority, while the workers are the overwhelming majority. And national borders mean little to working people. Our interests, our needs for peace, for housing, healthcare, schools and good opportunities for our families, jobs, decent pay and working conditions, retirement, security—these are the same needs for working people everywhere.

The truth is that workers, no matter where we were born, have common interests and all we need to do is convince our fellow workers of this and organize ourselves to win.

For a general and unconditional amnesty for all immigrants!

Open borders for a humane world. Si se puede!