By Javier Rodriguez 19 August 2013 Los Angeles
Los Angeles. The recent article by Sally Steenland of the Center for American Progress in Washington D.C., is an excellent and timely piece. Steeland, a best-selling author and Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center, outlines the correlation of forces at play in the titanic battle to overhaul immigration reform and empower the 11.5 million Undocumented Americans with a path to citizenship. She skillfully strips down the right wing opposition and in the process tears apart the myth of the anti immigrant ultra right as a comparable opposition, sarcastically identifying them as a small “fringe.”
Amicably however, when you also include the additional giants on the side of reform on her list, the fringe is reduced to an insignificant miniscule force and here is why: On the side of the nation’s pro immigrant majority, you will find MoveOn.Com, the largest and most active progressive social network, with an 8 million plus membership list on its portfolio. Approximately three weeks ago, the organization concluded the ultra conservatives running the party, despite the wishes of the majority in its ranks who favor a reform with a path to citizenship, were clearly stonewalling the reform till death. It appears, the leadership has begun a process of preparing the organization for the alternative end run on Speaker Bohner and the Hastert Rule. That is, concerting an agreement between the 200 democrats and the 18 republican congress members needed to form a majority and formally introduce the awaited integral comprehensive immigration reform bill in the House floor and then vote for its approval. If successful, a dramatic ending of this magnitude could have far reaching repercussions for the elephants, probably expediting their decline into the marginal fringe category, alluded by Steenland, possibly never to recover.
In addition to MoveOn, there is the also the multimillion member Americans for Action, formed out of the Obama victory of last November and operated by the same campaign team; As well, there is the official Democratic Party which strategically organized and moved the historical Latino vote against the Republicans in the last two presidential elections and just recently delivered the list of the 121 targeted Republican representatives now being lobbied and pressured by all the pro immigrant social forces to “assist them in making the crossover and support the pro immigrant bill.”
The Immigration Reform Summer campaign with over 400 actions is reportedly winning converts and by last week, the estimated elephants on board were 21 and growing; And of course along with the democrats is the White House team lending its political support. Then, there is the mainstream media –which with some exceptions such as Fox News- the rest of the vast TV networks and newspapers, print or online, English and Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Filipino, have been on board for sometime lambasting the right wing Republican obstruction of the number one national issue, which definitely has to be resolved, in order for the country’s economy to move forward.
Moreover, the list grows substantially when you also see that this time around, the nation’s African Americans and Asians are part of the 9 out 10 Americans in favor of reform and their national and local leaders have been, for some time, campaigning and lobbying Congress through their churches, communities, organizations, political spaces and in the districts of the 121 targeted Republicans. And lastly, the overwhelming majority of the 52 million Latinos in the country have unequivocally set the pace since last November and are now inundating the same Republican districts. For openers, at the beginning of the month hundreds of Latinos and allies held a forum in Congressman’s Steven King’s district with Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tom Harkin as keynote speakers, totally drowning out 10 of King’s supporters. Then on August 14, thousands confronted the House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, in his own backyard, in the hot desert City of Bakersfield, California.
The politicians will be back at the Capitol by September 9 and by then the momentum will be highly charged. In Los Angeles, the most experienced leaders and organizers of the mega marches and boycott of 2006 that derailed the infamous Sensenbrenner Bill -and who have since tirelessly been at the forefront of every march and lobbying campaigns in this struggle- have set aside political and personal differences, and once more joined together in “The Millions of Voices for Immigration Reform Coalition.” We are calling on all the people of Southern California to take this historical fight deeper in their hands and mass together for another giant street demonstration on September 22, 2013, when the reform debate will be burning passionately.
The agreed goal is to move hundreds of thousands to march on Broadway’s traditional downtown route or as the country’s number radio DJ Ricardo Sanchez “El Mandril” put it last week during our first interview on his program, “we need to break the [1.7 million] record set on March 25, 2006 in Los Angeles.” The media and political strategy being applied to build this event is similar to 2006, but under today’s political conditions. We believe the people, in conjunction with the rest of the social forces already in action, will take to the streets and build an unprecedented amount of pressure on the Republicans, possibly sealing the victory and wresting the coveted reform with the path to citizenship from Congress.
Javier Rodriguez is a journalist, a blogger and a media and political strategist. A long time social activist, he spent 22 years as a labor organizer and adviser for rank and file movements; he directed the mass street mobilizations of 1982-86, in LA that led up to the Amnesty Law IRCA of 1986; He was also the initiator and directed the making of the 1.7 million historical immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, as well as the May 1st 2006 Great American Boycott. He is presently involved in building La Universidad Obrera de Mexico-Los Angeles and recently traveled for 5 ½ months thru Mexico in 2012, observing and writing about the country’s political process, the aftermath of a highly questioned presidential election, the failed drug war and migrants.He is also one of the founders of the Millions of Voices for Immigration Reform Coalition.
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