Today, more human beings are migrating from countryside to city, from city to city, and from country to country than at any time in human history. Controversy swirls about the impact of immigrants on everything from labor markets and wages, crime and public morals, electoral outcomes and public spending, to awareness about race, ethnicity, and national identity. Nativistic responses, in the US and elsewhere, have led to restrictive practices against immigrants. Sharp debate has arisen over where to draw lines between “aliens” and “citizens” across a broad range of social policies. Progressive responses call for open borders and a human rights framework. Conflict over immigration and immigrant policy has intensified. Emerging patterns of immigration are creating new fault lines with the potential to alter the balance of social and political power. Immigration forces the Left to grapple with related issues of race, class, and gender, and with questions about history, culture, and politics. In short, immigration and immigrants present the Left with opportunities not only to explain the world but also to change it.
These developments motivated us to create this special issue. As co-editors, we wish to thank the members of the editorial board of Socialism and Democracy for their professional criticism and support. We are especially grateful to Emelio Betances, Anamaría Flores, D.H. Melhem, Peter Roman, Frank Rosengarten, Jonathan Scott, and Hobart Spalding for reading and offering comments to both our pieces and the contributors’ essays. We are particularly indebted to our managing editor, Victor Wallis, who not only provided invaluable criticism to all papers but guided this volume through publication. Finally, we want to thank the contributors to this collection. Without your work, this special issue would have remained merely another good idea.
M.B. and R.H.