The recent showing of Maria Hinojosa’s PBS Frontline documentary “Lost in Detention” accompanied by a spate of mobilizations in ten cities demanding immigration reform and a stop to the infamous Secure Communities ICE Program is indicative that the momentum for another national Latino immigrant upsurge maybe in the works. Why is this? Because these actions came on the hills of the recent general economic boycotts in the states of Alabama and Georgia against the approved anti immigrant laws in both states which closed many factories, businesses, schools and the agriculture industry. Additionally the Georgian leaders staged a 25,000 people mobilization a day after the federal court ruled their law unconstitutional.
The dramatic immigrant upsurge is absolutely understandable and more so upon looking at the new Alabama HB 56 state law: “It mandates parents to report the immigration status of their foreign-born children to public schools, requires children to report their undocumented parents to authorities, and makes it a crime to knowingly provide rides to undocumented persons, including to a hospital or church” stated the Southern Poverty Law Center. The heinous inhuman measures needed radical tactical responses and the people in those two states proudly met the challenge. It should be noted here that, for the immigrant and civil rights movement, and apparently also the Justice Department, Alabama has become a battle ground state. A half dozen regional and national organizations have sent teams of staff organizers to be on the ground, be trained and coordinate with the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice. They are being deployed to cities and the countryside using with a know your rights campaign to make contact with the people, get feedback and much more. And no surprise, our fearless Cong. Luis Gutierrez is also scheduled to land in the historical bastion of racism to address the people, document stories and will attend the NAACP National Conference to be held in a few days in the state.
Alabama Justice Coalition’s local organizations. They are being deployed to cities and the countryside employing a know your rights campaign to make contact with the people, get feedback and much more. And no surprise, our fearless Cong. Luis Gutierrez is also scheduled to land in the historical bastion of racism to address the people, document stories and _ attend the NAACP National Conference to be held in the state.
Alabama then is the epicenter of intense solidarity. Our instinct tells us that, as in our experiences, the present boycotts and mobilizations in Georgia and Alabama were the product of well thought out political decisions. The effective mobilizations are really no different than last year’s actions against Arizona or the Immigrant Spring of 2006 which moved millions on the streets and the May Day national boycott of the economy which for 24 hours paralyzed an estimated twenty industries nationally. That, essentially killed HR4437, the Sensenbrenner Bill.
All this, together with other developments like the forced exodus of tens of thousands of immigrants from their homes in the affected states and the ongoing and nefarious Republican presidential debates which have turned into contests to see who is the strongest anti immigrant presidential hopeful -which equals anti Latino, along with other indicators that we will address in the next piece- are a clear signal, a mandate if you will to the social movement that, nationally, Latinos and the undocumented are expecting the call for “Another Day Without an Immigrant” as well the next round of mega marches in the country to demonstrate their strength on the streets and the economy.
If so, a sector of the grass roots immigrant organizations and leaders who were prominent in the making of that boycott in 2006, after twelve hours of intense discussion, in four consecutive weekly meetings averaging about thirty people, primarily a majority of undocumented members of the newly formed Dec 12 Boycott Coalition, in the hall of La Hermandad Mexicana TransNacional in Los Angeles, have begun to weave and create the networking and alliances to get it off the ground. The chosen date is Monday Dec 12, 2011, the day of La Virgen de Guadalupe, and the call is for NO WORK, NO SALES, NO BUYING and NO SCHOOL. The grass roots coalition has been diligently working the bases and as of this writing there is organizing in six cities, Los Angeles, San Jose, Sacramento, Oxnard-Ventura, Las Vegas and two states. In LA the coalition has 20 organizations integrated and key endorsements from “Occupy LA” and La Placita Church. For clarification, the Virgin, La Guadalupana , one of the most endeared Latino symbols in the continent, is being taken, not for prayers, but rather to battle on behalf of the most exploited and vulnerable people of today, the immigrants.
If Dec 12 is successful, like the mushrooming “Occupy Wall Street” continuous occupations in over three hundred cities, the immigrant rights movement will spectacularly enter into the present national presidential debate demanding dignity, respect and most of all legalization and immigration reform now, before the November 2012 elections for the 11 million immigrants, their 4.5 million US born children, their millions of US citizen spouses and the estimated 14.5 million mixed families.
Another clarification. Although we had projected only three articles for these series titled “The Immigrant Rights Movement at a Crossroads III” we have expanded it to four. This third and short piece, directed also to the nation’s thousands of immigrant rights activists and the Latino and progressive media, is accompanied by a much richer political and analytical writing, which in reality is a chapter extracted from the 2007 book “Capitalist Globalization in Latin America,” by UCSB Prof. William Robinson, one of the world’s authorities on globalization. The title is “The Immigrant Rights Movement in the US” pp 309-322 and you can find the full text online at Amazon.com. In this book the professor provides a view of the resistance against capital in this continent and presents three case studies which are: Bolivia, Venezuela and the rise of America’s contemporary immigrant rights movement.
Robinson’s contribution is by far the best analysis of the Immigrant Spring of 2006. It gives an ideological and political context to the contemporary world wide immigration phenomena and defines it as the new working class brought about by capitalist globalization. Incisively he exhibits the dual role played by the state in ensuring the flow of undocumented immigrant labor to capital from abroad as well as providing the punitive legislation and repressive administrative policies to maintain the immigrant population in check. When you reach this point you will have a better and more objective appreciation of the present wave of anti immigrant legislation in a handful of southern and western states combined with record deportations, Secure Communities and the EVerify programs. They are both one and the same, directed at whipping xenophobia, fear and psychosis against this sector, therefore dividing the workers and students here in the US as “illegals and aliens Vs. citizens.” With the economic crisis as a background, the latter is also at the core of the rise of white nationalism and hate groups and the thousands of documented attacks against Latinos in 2005 to the present which Robinson also addresses.
Additionally he delineates a near factual and statistical narration of this historical confrontation with transnational capital centering on the March 25, 2011 record breaking 1.7 million street mobilization of Los Angeles and the May 1st Great American Boycott of the same year in which, to reiterate, millions marched, stopped work and shut down over twenty industries, closed businesses and boycotted schools in hundreds of cities nationwide. This historical description should be seen with a comprehensive wide scope lens and as near an objective analysis of the present political and organizational conditions on a local and national scale, with the goal of venturing into a sound and practical national strategy for the next 12 months that will hopefully land us into the promised land. Enjoy Bill Robinson.
A caution, when downloading the attached document, the second page is three times repeated, after that you’re home.
The Dec 12 Boycott Coalition meets on Tuesdays 7:00 PM at La Placita Church.
Javier Rodriguez is a journalist and a media and political strategist. A long time activist, he was the initiator and directed the making of the 1.7 MILLION historical immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006 . firstname.lastname@example.org. Isabel Rodriguez is a workers compensation attorney and a long time activist email@example.com. Antonio Rodriguez is a civil rights- anti police brutality attorney and also a long time activist Antoniohr@rodriguezlaw.com. All three are siblings who played a prominent role in organizing the mass street immigration movement of 1984 and 2006