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Immigration: Stop the Raids in the First 100 Days

Something is clearly wrong with the priorities of immigration enforcement.

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3. Change trade policy and renegotiate agreements like NAFTA, so they stop causing poverty and uprooting communities, making migration peoples' only alternative for survival. Defeat new trade agreements with countries like Colombia, which will cause job loss in the US and spread low wages, labor violations and displacement abroad. US tax dollars, instead of being spent on war in Iraq, could expand rural credit, education and healthcare in Mexico and other countries, easing the pressure behind migration.

There is a common ground between immigrants, African-Americans and other communities of color, unions, churches, civil rights organizations and working families generally. Legalization and immigrant rights, tied to guaranteeing jobs for all working families, can bring people together. All workers, including immigrants, need the right to organize and enforce labor standards - the same goal sought by unions in the Employee Free Choice Act. Changing trade policy will benefit working class communities in the US, while helping the families of immigrants back home from Oaxaca to El Salvador.

The diverse communities who need these reforms can and will find ways to seek them together. In fact, if Barack Obama and a larger Democratic majority in Congress gain office in November, they will owe their victory to this coalition.

After the election, this same coalition will need jobs and rights. But immigrant workers are going to jail now. The wave of raids continues to divide families, even as candidates hold rallies and ask for votes. In Los Angeles' Placita Olvera, activists have begun a hunger strike to stop the deportations. Marches and demonstrations are making the same point from coast to coast.

Promises of change are not enough. For candidates who want working-class votes, the first step is to speak out.

David Bacon is the author of several books, the most recent of which is Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants .

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