Sunday, March 26, 2006
Immigrant Rights: The Sleeping Giant
"We construct your schools. We cook your food. We are the motor of this nation, but people don't see us. Blacks and whites, they had their revolution. They had their Martin Luther King. Now it is time for us." -- Jorge Ruiz
The massive demonstrations across the country for immigrant rights have reportedly surprised everyone.
There were school walkouts, fired-up marches and work stoppages in cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Milwaukee and Atlanta. According to the New York Times, activists report that "tens of thousands of workers did not show up at their jobs" in Georgia "after calls to protest a state bill that would deny state services to adults living in the country illegally."
In Atlanta, "about 200 protesters converged on the steps of the State Capitol, some wrapped in Mexican flags and holding signs saying 'Don't panic, we're Hispanic' and 'We have a dream, too.'"
In a Dallas rally of 1,500, rapper Jorge Ruiz said, "We construct your schools. We cook your food. We are the motor of this nation, but people don't see us. Blacks and whites, they had their revolution. They had their Martin Luther King. Now it is time for us."
But revolutions never come for just one group. One group may lead, but many follow. Discontent and anger with the status quo of repressive public policy is on the rise among all minorities.
I can almost feel a breeze from the coming progressive era.
Joining what some are calling the nation's largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border. Spirited crowds representing labor, religious groups, civil-rights advocates and ordinary immigrants stretched over 26 blocks of downtown Los Angeles from Adams Blvd. along Spring Street and Broadway to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!). The crowd, estimated by police at more than 500.000, represented one of the largest protest marches in Los Angeles history, surpassing Vietnam War demonstrations and the 70,000 who rallied downtown against Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that denied public benefits to undocumented migrants.
The marchers included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life and a love for this county.
Saturday's rally, spurred by anger over legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last December, was part of what many say is an unprecedented effort to organize immigrants and their supporters across the nation. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is to take up efforts Monday to complete work on a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. Unlike the House bill, which beefed up border security and toughened immigration laws, the Senate committee's version is expected to include a guest worker program and a path to legalization for the nation's 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have staged demonstrations in more than a dozen cities. The Roman Catholic Church and other religious communities have launched immigrant rights campaigns, with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony taking a leading role in speaking out against the House bill and calling on his priests to defy its provisions that would make felons of anyone who aided undocumented immigrants. In addition, several cities, including Los Angeles, have passed resolutions against the House legislation and some, such as Maywood, have declared itself a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.
"There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "They have kicked the sleeping giant. It's the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle."
Bush Immigration Demonstrations Immigrant Rights Democrats Progressive Era Jorge Ruiz
Posted by egalia at 11:50 AM