This piece was held up since February after I got hacked

By Javier Rodriguez, Isabel Rodriguez, Antonio Rodriguez, Jaime Rodriguez, Jacobo Rodriguez, Jorge Rodriguez, Ricardo Rodriguez, Francisco Paco Rodriguez, Mariana Herrera and Aurora Rodriguez.

From Plaza del Mariachi in Boyle Heights 12 Feb. 2014

  • One week after Republicans unveiled a list of principles and      promised to introduce immigration bills up for a vote in the House in June      2014, Speaker John Boehner and the moderate block succumbed to a brutal blitzkrieg      by the far right and meekly abandoned the reform legislation for 2014.
  • Although the Republican chorus      line, led by Boehner and Ryan, is      hypocritically placing the blame on Obama, the move has essentially escalated      the Republican war on Latinos and immigrants in America.       
  • Latino leaders and the      country’s Immigrant Rights Movement must respond with a powerful national revolt and move      the people into the streets by the hundreds of thousands directly against      the Republicans and if the conditions rise to the occasion, they could also      call for Another Day Without an Immigrant National Boycott.     

Allow us to open this analysis by getting directly to the point. From their Maryland retreat a week ago, House Republicans pompously unveiled a list of “standards and principles” for an immigration reform plan that could allow the close to 12 million undocumented immigrants to remain in the country if they met certain standards. The development was the first volley of the awaited Republican response to the long time pressure exerted on the conservative politicians in Congress with strategic precision by  Latinos, Asians, African Americans, labor, Clergy, the growers, business, the White House, the Senate and the rest of the forces which make up the broad and diverse  immigrant rights national movement. The issue of what to do with the undocumented is just one of several national issues that have split the Republicans in both, the House of Representatives and Senate, into the moderates that allegedly believe the party must be saved from the wrath of the Latino electorate on one side and on the other, the more dogmatic Tea Party hardliners and the extreme right wing forces behind them, including the powerful Heritage Foundation. For years, the extremists have been on the war path against any type of reform that leads to empowering immigrants and their plans are to kill it by any means necessary.

The Republican media blitz sounded good for several days because it arrived without the rhetoric of “ship them out and self deport them,” which was one of Mitt Romney’s campaign pillars that voters soundly defeated in November 2012. The Speaker’s stated plan was to present the House bills in June, after this year’s primaries were over.

 Astonishingly though, and more in tune with the Republican 5 year long “anti Obama obstruction  campaign,” on Feb 6, Boehner publicly announced to the nation that the legislation is off  for this year and placed the blame for the failure of Immigration Reform on the President, “because he cannot be trusted.” It was surreal but not surprising.

What happened to Boehner and the moderates? Why the 180 degree turnaround on immigration after having defeated the far right in the aftermath of the government shutdown of last year, along with the more recent agreements with the Democrats on the budget deal, the trillion dollar spending bill, the agricultural law and the food stamp program?  The fact is the Maryland Republican retreat unified the far right national organizations and their anti immigrant allies in Congress, along with TV conservative personalities, and they all sounded the alarm. 

The Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party Patriots and For America Group set off the blitzkrieg and the mega conservative grass roots pressure and placed in motion 955,000 calls. Through targeted TV commercials and the social networks they sent unequivocal messages and #hashtags, calling for “no amnesty,” and declaring that “President Obama cannot be trusted.” Additionally, they called for an alternative Republican retreat and the banger, began to organize the removal of Boehner and the Republican leadership. It was a clean sweep. From the start, the retreat and the principles were a losing cause.  

Meantime May 1st 2014 is only 78 days away and deportations are about to become a record 2 million, so the big question is, at this historical junction, are the national grass roots leaders from all quarters within the immigrant rights movement, ready to meet the challenge head on to make sure the reform bill gets approved and signed this year. Or, can they succeed in obtaining the presidential executive orders for a DACA II for the 10 million unprotected immigrants and successfully stop the brutal and ongoing deportations.   

As we have mentioned before on Facebook and the massive email sent recently to thousands of activists, the tool that has been obviously absent in the ongoing array of political pressure on Congress and the White House, is an effective unified call to all the organizations and leaders to promote and organize larger, massive and spectacular street marches, in the hundreds of thousands, and if the conditions rise to the occasion, call for  another economic boycott pointed primarily on the Republicans.

On this, the recent history of this period, 2005-2013, is revealing.  The power of the movement was effectively demonstrated against the Minutemen in 2005 with month long confrontations at the border and in many inland cities, plus the 40,000 people Chicago march in August of the same year; then came the gigantic mobilizations from March 8 to March 25, April 10, April 15 and May 1, 2006.  These, besides convening  millions of people to march in hundreds of cities from coast to coast, the momentum also carried the grass roots leaders and organizations to the first ever National May 1st Great American Economic Boycott in the history of the United States. The one day general strike of No work, no school, No buying and No selling  paralyzed hundreds of cities from California to New York, stopping work and production in approximately twenty industries and effectively closing tens of thousands of businesses. Intrepidly and prior to that May Day, the movement in the State of Georgia organized its own one day economic boycott in which an estimated 80,000 Latinos and immigrants stopped work and also marched in the streets of Atlanta.

 In all, the Immigrant Spring impressively defeated the infamous HR4437 Sensenbrenner Bill and also forced the political class in Washington to place general reform on the agenda.

Four years later in 2010, when the right began pushing its anti immigrant agenda through the states legislatures, the counter response was also immediate with month long vigils, civil disobedience and large demonstrations. The first but most important event of that year took place In Washington D.C., when on March 21, 200,000 people from all over the country marched, clamored and pushed for comprehensive Immigration Reform. Five weeks later on May 1, 250,000 marched in Los Angeles and on May 30 over 100,000 in Phoenix. The latter two were primarily in defense of the immigrants and Latinos, who were under a strong intense assault in the right wing state of Arizona, as well as keeping the flame for reform alive.

The people in the streets in 2010 were not as large as in 2006, but generally speaking, the combined numbers were nevertheless a proud and dignified response to the multifaceted right wing attack. However, and it has to be acknowledged, it was the intervention of the US Attorney General and the  national legal and civil rights organizations and the federal courts that effectively placed the anti immigrant legislation in Arizona and the other 5 states, in paralysis. Moreover, it was a clear defeat of the anti immigrant right legislative strategy and its forces in the nation.

                To clarify any misconceptions, the present movement and its leadership at the helm, in the last four years, has  carried out an incessant and persistent set of planned organizing and actions such as last year’s Hot Summer for Immigration Reform, when, for the first time, thousands of activists nationally targeted Republican Congressm@n in their districts. On September 22, October 5, the movement as a whole organized large and small street demonstrations in many cities, the largest ones in LA. Three days later, on October 8 in the Capitol, a reported 25,000 people attended an unprecedented concert by Los Tigres del Norte and Lila Downs, and after marched to the front of Congress where 200 leaders and 8 Congressmen staged the largest civil disobedience ever in the history of this struggle. Then came the undisputable and remarkable success of the hunger strike also in D.C. Although several Latino desk journalists initially discarded the “Fast for Families” as a non starter, they were wrong. The sacrifice by the participating activists and national leaders for more than 21 days without food, in near zero cold weather, galvanized broad popular support from all social sectors, the media included. Additionally and wisely, in a move reminiscent of Bobby Kennedy and Jesse Jackson’s visit to support Cesar Chavez and the farm workers, national political personalities, including Sen. Harry Reid, Vice President Joe Biden and Barack and Michelle Obama, walked across the lawn of the Senate building and the White House and entered the tent of the hunger strikers to publicly express their support and solidarity. More important, the national fast focused national attention on reform and duly motivated the movement.

Briefly, in our observation of the national political process and the political conditions, all along, before and after Senate Bill S744 was approved last year, it has been the Republicans who have desperately put the brakes on the Congressional approval of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and the events of last week are no different.  The Center for American Progress, a major pro immigrant think tank in D.C., immediately and with incisively optimism responded: “There is still plenty of time left in 2014. The last 5 major reforms on immigration, beginning with the 1986 IRCA Law, have been achieved during election years. In fact, 4 of them were approved in the months of September and October, and all with divided governments.” 

“The nation’s largest immigration coalition—the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM)—announced today it will step up its efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform by moving into a phase of electoral punishment for GOP inaction.”

 Even though it has become highly diversified, sophisticated and professional and its networks, or base, are the largest we have ever seen woven in the history of this struggle, and we say this with all due respect, in order to maximize the momentum and mobilize greater numbers of the people unto the streets, as it was done in 2006, the leaders of today’s national movement have to trust its fundamental instinct to unify all the leading forces in the country, including those that captured the momentum, and against all odds, organized the May 1 boycott of that historical Immigrant Spring.

“If successful, as in 2006, the mass mobilizations will also put the electorate in greater motion for this year’s mid term and the presidential elections of 2016 against the Republicans.” 

At this crucial stage of the struggle for reform and to put a desperately needed halt to the endemic crisis of deportations, the social movement also cannot afford the spectacles of past mistakes, that is, the divisions and factionalism exhibited during 2006 up to last year 2013. If it is to succeed in augmenting the lobbying in this last part of the process, not just for the bills to get to the floor of the House, but also to assure a more humane reform that can embrace the majority of the people, the national leadership, and LA in particular, must once and for all times discard and bury the Dance of Los Coyotes and Sharks approach to organizing and throw the “Bipolar Political Conduct Syndrome (BPCS),” into another trash bin of history. 

*Javier is a journalist, a blogger and a media and political strategist. His blog is Isabel is an attorney, a long time activist, a member of the Millions of Voices Coalition and presently on her final year at Cal State LA studying for a masters degree on Latin America Studies. Antonio is a civil rights attorney, a long time activist and fundraiser and a former contributor to LA Times and La Opinion Op-Ed pages. Jacobo formerly a longtime community and labor organizer for UE-United Electrical Workers Union and a bail bondsman.  Jaime is a long time social activist and presently serves as a field deputy to Sen. Ron Calderon. Jorge is a public policy consultant, an immigrant and environmental justice activist, a member in the Millions of Voices Coalition and is presently a candidate in the Urban Sustainability Masters Program at Antioch University West. Ricardo is a former student leader and a trade unionist with a recent victory union drive for 500 drivers in Barstow for United Electrical Workers Union-UE, as well as a Gourmet Chef and  Caterer. Francisco Paco Rodriguez is a founder of Corazon del Pueblo in Boyle Heights and a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union, Mariana has two masters degrees, is an MA Therapist and presently a progressive playwright at CASA 0101