FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Immigration Movement at a Crossroads

by DAN La BOTZ

America’s immigrants-most of them Latinos and most of those from Mexico-have been waiting and hoping for a comprehensive immigration reform, one that would legalize those who have been working in the United States and give them a path to citizenship without creating new guest workers programs. A year ago the Latino immigrants marched with their flags, with our flag, and with the slogan “No Human Being is Illegal.” They asked to be recognized for their labor and their on-going contribution to our society. Since that wave of demonstrations, they have waited patiently.

Now Representatives Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), have put forward the Strive Act of 2007, a bill born in the hope of pleasing not only the immigrants but also conservatives in both parties. The bill will please neither. The immigrants have already spoken. Nativo V. López of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), who has been the most consistent fighter for a genuinely comprehensive immigration reform, has called the bill unacceptable as has the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

Once again, López has it right. The Gutierrez-Flake proposal fails to guarantee legalization for all immigrants who are here now, it would continue to criminalize immigrants, and it includes guest worker programs with the promise of legalization, but many years down the road. Under this bill, immigrants can’t even apply for legalization until corporations like Boeing, Ericsson, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon have made millions making the border secure. If immigrants want something better than this-and we know they do-then they will have to show their power as they did last spring.
A Day Without a Mexican

The immigrants’ power is enormous. Last year’s demonstrations in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, but also in many other cities and small towns, verged on becoming general strikes with the power to shut down both industry and services. If immigrants were to use their peaceful power, either by a one-day national strike-“A Day without a Mexican”-or by a series of strikes in selected cities or industries, they would once again put their case before the American people. They would show beyond a doubt that immigrants are working people-and that they demand their rights.

The grassroots Latino organizations know they have the power to do this, to call national demonstrations and to strike, with or without the blessing of the Catholic Church, without or without the sanction of the mainline Hispanic organizations, and with or without the okay of the unions. Latinos know they have the power because they did it once before, only a year ago, in the largest demonstrations of a social movement in the history of the United States.

If immigrants take to the streets again in the spring they will through their mobilization draw many tens of thousands of people into the movement. New people will come out who have never been involved before. The movement will construct new organizations and create new leaders. A Latino movement in the streets will find new allies in American society and it will keep pressure on Congress.

While the establishment organizations may be fearful of another round of demonstrations and the possibility of a strike, once the demonstrations begin the churches, the mainline Hispanic organizations and the unions will rally to the cause. Latinos and other immigrants represent a minority of the society and they need allies to win, but one gains allies only by acting with integrity in one’s own interest. Power exerts a magnetic force and draws others to it, just as weakness repels.

If immigrants do not keep up the pressure, then they can expect that Flake-Gutierrez will be whittled down to a highly repressive law that legalizes some while leaving most as guest workers or as undocumented immigrants condemned to continue to lead lives in the shadows. If immigrants don’t use their power, they can expect the raids like that in New Bedford, Massachusetts to continue, where men and women rounded up, detained and deported while their children are left behind. If immigrants don’t use their power, we will continue to see more Hazelton, Pennsylvanias and more Butler County, Ohios where local authorities terrorize the immigrant population.

The Latino immigrant movement stands at a crossroads, immigrants themselves will choose. They will either stand up again courageously as they did last year and use their tremendous peaceful power to win the solution that they deserve-legalization for all who are here now, a road to citizenship for those who so desire, and no guest programs-or they will step back from the challenge, allowing their opponents to divide and conquer with a “compromise bill.” The lives of millions of immigrants and the future of the immigrant communities for the next several decades will be affected by their decision.

DAN La BOTZ serves on the coordinating committee of the Coalition for Immigrants Rights and Dignity (Coalición por los Derechos y la Dignidad de los Inmigrantes ­CODEDI–www.codedi.org) which helped to organize the spring 2006 demonstrations in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. He alone is responsible for the opinions expressed here.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castille’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail