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:
Weekend Edition
November 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Linda Pentz Gunter
A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Fires This Time
Nick Alexandrov
Birth of a Nation
Vijay Prashad
Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis
Peter Montague
Men in Power Abusing Women – What a Surprise!
Kristine Mattis
Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets
Pete Dolack
Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking
Mike Whitney
ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Darkness, Part Two
James Munson
Does Censoring Undemocratic Voices Make For Better Democracy?
Brian Cloughley
The Influence of Israel on Britain
Jason Hickel
Averting the Apocalypse: Lessons From Costa Rica
Pepe Escobar
How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads
Jan Oberg
Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?
Ezra Rosser
Pushing Back Against the Criminalization of Poverty
Kathy Kelly
The Quality of Mercy
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Gerry Brown
Myanmar Conflict: Geopolitical Food Chain
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Robert Redford’s Big Game in Nairobi
Katrina Kozarek
Venezuela’s Communes: a Great Social Achievement
Zoltan Grossman
Olympia Train Blockade Again Hits the Achilles Heel of the Fracking Industry
Binoy Kampmark
History, Law and Ratko Mladić
Tommy Raskin
Why Must We Sanction Russia?
Bob Lord
Trump’s Tax Plan Will Cost a Lot More Than Advertised
Ralph Nader
National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place
Julian Vigo
If Sexual Harassment and Assault Were Treated Like Terrorism
Russell Mokhiber
Still Blowing Smoke for Big Tobacco: John Boehner and College Ethics
Ted Rall
Sexual Harassment and the End of Team Politics
Anna Meyer
Your Tax Dollars are Funding GMO Propaganda
Barbara Nimri Aziz
An Alleged Communist and Prostitute in Nepal’s Grade Ten Schoolbooks!
Myles Hoenig
A Ray Moore Win Could be a Hidden Gift to Progressives
Graham Peebles
What Price Humanity? Systemic Injustice, Human Suffering
Kim C. Domenico
To Not Walk Away: the Challenge of Compassion in the Neoliberal World
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Giving Thanks for Our Occupation of America?
Christy Rodgers
The First Thanksgiving
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “We Were Eight Years in Power”
November 23, 2017
Kenneth Surin
Discussing Trump Abroad
Jay Moore
The Failure of Reconstruction and Its Consequences
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Trout and Ethnic Cleansing
John W. Whitehead
Don’t Just Give Thanks, Pay It Forward One Act of Kindness at a Time
Chris Zinda
Zinke’s Reorganization of the BLM Will Continue Killing Babies
David Krieger
Progress Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Rick Baum
While Public Education is Being Attacked: An American Federation of Teachers Petition Focuses on Maintaining a Minor Tax Break
Paul C. Bermanzohn
The As-If Society
Cole A. Turner
Go Away, Kevin Spacey
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail