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Immigration and the Left (Chicago)

Held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on November 7, 2016.

Panelists:

Ralph Cintron, professor of English and Latino and Latin American Studies at UIC
Jorge Mujica, Chicago Socialist Campaign and Moviemiento 10 de Marzo
Jacqueline Stevens, professor of Political Science at Northwestern

Description:

Neo-liberalism, as the current organization of capitalism, promised to overcome the crisis of the Keynesian-Fordist states through the attainment of a free, cosmopolitan society. Yet, the weight of national borders continues to be felt. While capital can easily move to a home where it is profitable, workers find their movement more stifled. From Brexit to the US presidential elections, immigration has become unavoidable in political discourse: some politicians have promised comprehensive immigration reform, while others have considered the undocumented culpable for the decline of the nation's economy and sovereignty. In each case, a crisis of Neo-liberalism is registered - but what is the meaning of the question to the Left and its attempts to change the world? 

Famously, the Communist Manifesto says "the working men have no country." The incessant drive to realize profit sends capital all over the world, uprooting established relations and dynamizing the global economy. Workers are forced to consider themselves internationally in the fight against capital. Further, immigration might even centralize the gravediggers of capitalism.

However, if this process is not grasped by the workers, it offers an opportunity for the capitalists to secure their reign. The precarity of immigrants can be exploited by the ruling class to split the proletariat and contain their political struggle - that is, unless there is a Left to lead. 

Questions:

  1. How has the Left approached the question of immigration historically? What opportunities exist in the immigrant rights movement today for an emancipatory politics? 
  2. How has immigration related to other demands made by the Left?
  3. What role can Left organizations - civil and/or political - play in immigration politics?

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