On the Fourth of July, American workers celebrate the great victory of the “American people” over the British monarchy in the American Revolution, which was officially launched on this day in 1776 with the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence. This victory – which was not completed until 5 long and bloody years of revolutionary struggle in which perhaps a third of the able-bodied men and women of the infant United States participated on the revolutionary side.
In this time in which the nation has given its consent to the US capitalist class and its government to brutalize immigrant workers to the point of savagely tearing babies out of the arms of their mothers and separating them, in some cases, permanently, we would do well to remember on the Fourth of July that ours is a nation whose existence would never have been possible if not for the selfless sacrifice of thousands of immigrants – legal and “illegal” – who participated in the Revolutionary War. Spanish, Canadian, Irish, German, Polish and French workers (to name only a few of the national origins of the foreign-born workers who participated) fought for – and many gave their lives for – the revolutionary victory. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the assistance of professional German and Polish soldiers, and the massive and crucial French intervention, it’s very likely that Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and all the rest of the Founding Fathers would lie in traitors’ graves in England – and we’d be singing “God Save the Queen” to this day.
The ratio of American soldiers to the French who fought at the 1781 Battle of Yorktown which decided the outcome of the Revolution was roughly 1:1 (counting the decisive 29 French ships-of-the-line that truly sealed the fate of British Lord Cornwallis and his men). Though black workers – free and slave, fought on both sides in the Revolution, most blacks sided with the Americans – in spite of the fact that, to the eternal shame of the USA, it was the British and not the Americans who offered emancipation to the American slaves who defected and fought on the British side. If the American Revolution was fought in the name of “freedom” it was for the freedom of the slave owners and mercantilists to ruthlessly exploit and enslave workers, not for the freedom of the workers, black or white. After the American Revolution, approximately 80% of the adult population was disenfranchised because they were either women, slaves or were too poor to meet the property qualifications necessary in order to vote.
It is disheartening to say the least that so many US workers today have fallen for the lie that the USA is being “threatened” by the influx of immigrants fleeing oppression in other countries – in many cases, fleeing oppressive governments backed by or installed by the United States. In a nation composed entirely of immigrants who came to this country fleeing oppression (or perhaps fleeing a death sentence for one of the more than 200 crimes for which a worker could be put to death in England in the early 1700s), it is a disgrace and an insult to the memory of our immigrant ancestors that we should be slamming the door of refuge in the face of workers seeking sanctuary in the United States today. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let’s remember where all of our families came from – and why – and dedicate ourselves to standing up for the rights of ALL immigrants, not just immigrant children. This country has more than enough resources to easily absorb millions of new immigrants every year. It is not the immigrants who threaten the precarious economic basis for our families, half of which are living from paycheck to paycheck just one step ahead of the bill collectors. The reason why US workers must struggle to make ends meet has absolutely *nothing* to do with the immigrants: it has *everything* to do with the fact that the wealthiest 15% of the US population has robbed the US working class blind since 1781 to the point where, today, that 15% owns 85% of the national wealth while the remaining 85% of the population is left to fight each other over the remaining 15% of national wealth. It is capitalism which is killing us, not the immigrants.
Immigrant workers are not criminals: they are our working-class sisters and brothers! For Full Citizenship Rights for ALL immigrants! Build a workers party and fight for a workers government that will overthrow the long, brutal reign of the capitalist class that robs us blind!