October 23, 2011
Excerpts from a talk given by Monserrat Alvarez, a Raleigh FIST activist, at the Oct. 8-9 Workers World Party National Conference in New York City.
My name is Monserrat Alvarez and I’m a member of the Raleigh chapter of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together. I am Chicana and a proud daughter of undocumented immigrants. I grew up in a single-parent, working-class home. Growing up I remember my mother working in a factory, as a farmworker, housekeeper, cook, any employment she was able to acquire under her legal status. At the age of nine, after moving to North Carolina, I began to understand the significance of her legal status in this country.
I began organizing around immigration because of my mother, hoping that someday she would be able to live in peace in a country she helped build with her hard labor. At the age of 12 I had a lot to learn about organizing and more importantly the reasons for all the problems.
Who created NAFTA? Who is pushing for these immigration laws? Why do they label my people as “illegal aliens” when we were here before colonialism? The answer is simple: It’s part of the system, the capitalist imperialist system that continues to exploit my communities. I began to see a broader picture of the movement. I began to see my struggle in his struggle, in her struggle, in our struggle.
North Carolina continues to fight against segregation, hatred and ignorance. Our education system is under attack, our jobs are under attack, our public services are under attack, our communities are under attack. We have reached the breaking point. [Law] 287(g) and Secure Communities continue to feed into the prison-industrial complex, separating families and deporting innocent people.
The Secure Student Act will lower the enrollment of migrant students in the school system, requiring them to present specific identification in order to enroll in the public school system, allowing their legal status to be questioned. Budget cuts are raising tuition in public universities leading to high student debts, cutting programs such as Women’s Studies, the laying off of teachers and staff, and seeking private funds from political machines that are pushing their conservative agendas.
Lack of access to higher education for undocumented students has left a generation of students without hope for a future, reaching a breaking point but now stepping out of the shadows and shouting, “Undocumented and unafraid!” Capitalists like Art Pope, who have ties to the Koch brothers, are injecting thousands of dollars into campaigns for GOP candidates in order to control the House and Senate. Their agenda has reached our school board where they put in Tea Party puppets who are trying to resegregate our school systems by dismantling the policies that attempt to close the gap between working-class and upper-class students. Now that they are in control of the legislature they are pushing for laws like E-verify, which will require employers to verify the legal status of their employees. This will only raise the poverty levels and fear among undocumented immigrants. They are pushing for bills like the Defense of Marriage Act, trying to constitutionally define marriage in order to remove benefits to same-sex partnerships.
We are all in the same struggle though many people are failing to see this. Imperialism is responsible for puppet democracies in other countries, and capitalism is responsible for inflation, a consequence of free trade, all causing the large amount of migration. Capitalism continues to profit off prisons while lobbying for stricter immigration laws and exploiting workers and students.
Capitalists use their endless amount of money in order to control policies that increase their profits on the backs of the working class. It is time to unify our movements and realize that our common enemies are the capitalist imperialists and the governments that serve them. The lines that have separated us, like racism and sexism, are growing closer and closer. Now it is our duty to educate and guide the people away from capitalism to socialism and into a system for the true liberation of all people.