Immigration bill: an attack on all workers

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
November 20, 2023

The government and the main opposition parties are incapable of providing a credible response to the inequalities, crises and wars ravaging the world. They are even incapable of solving problems as concrete as the housing crisis, medical deserts or the upkeep of rivers and ditches to prevent flooding.

But they excel at making life impossible for working people, especially for immigrants. Right now they're hard at work on yet another immigration law.

Spearheaded by Interior Minister Darmanin, this law sets out a series of new restrictions designed to stop illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration. For the right and the far right, it's the perfect opportunity to spit their anti-immigrant venom, stirring up fears and abject prejudices, particularly against Muslims.

This law is based on an accusation presented as the ultimate truth by all demagogues: that immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, are profiteers, delinquents and even potential terrorists. Those lies are utterly revolting!

Can you call “profiteers” people hired on a weekly or daily basis to work in the worst conditions on the construction sites of the Olympic Games and the “Grand Paris Express” metro?

“Threats", people who work in 40-degree heat in back kitchens or cut up meat in freezing-cold slaughterhouses for poverty wages? “Dangers", people who pay social security contributions but don't get the rights that go with them, because they work under an assumed identity?

And how cynical to dare say that immigrants are “not welcome”! They are employed as cooks, deliverymen, nannies, home helps, care assistants, doctors… Those workers are essential to keeping assembly lines running in factories, to sustain hospitals, the building and the catering trades! In other words, they are the backbone of society.

By stripping immigrant workers of their documents, by forcing them to live with fewer rights than others, the senators – fed and laundered by them! – have just proven their contempt and hatred for workers. But all members of the world of labour know the price of this working-class sweat.

Yet, however casual they may be, and despite the risks it entails, undocumented workers are fighting for their rights. Hundreds of them are currently involved in strikes – at Chronopost and on the Olympic Games construction sites. Like all workers, they want to be respected and see their usefulness recognized, which of course implies the basic right to have ID papers.

Their struggle must become that of all workers, because we are all in the same boat, struggling against the same exploiters. If undocumented workers are scorned, forced to live undercover and be overexploited, the whole working class will suffer the consequences, with wages and working conditions dragged down by employers striving for ever greater profits.

As a class we are already suffering the effects of the anti-immigrant climate that has taken hold. Not only does it affect recent legal and illegal immigrants, but it also blights the lives of immigrants who have been living in France for decades, of their children born in France, and of all those whose color or name indicates a foreign origin.

To attack immigrants, whether or not they are documented, is to attack the working class. Workers who fall for racism and division are shooting themselves in the foot. The only profiteers in this affair are to be found, as always, in the ranks of employers, whether big or small.

When a fraction of workers are deprived of their rights, the rights of all workers recede. So we need the same rights for all! Documents and a fair wage for all workers! Freedom of movement and settlement for all!

Workers don't have enemies among the oppressed. The ones we must denounce and fight are those who collectively exploit us: the bourgeois minority who runs society and is driving it into the abyss, by plundering the world, pitting people against each other, and imposing its domination through war.

This fight can only be waged if we recognize workers with other origins, cultures and skin colors, as our brothers and sisters in class and in combat!

Nathalie Arthaud