by Javier Rodriguez
The recently defeated Senate immigration proposal and the one waiting to be addressed in the lower house, the Strive Act, are neither pro-immigrant nor pro-worker Immigration reform.
Both fall far short of the human rights standards set forth by the United Nations International Covenant for the Protection of Migrant Workers.
Under both proposals, the legalization offer is a torturous, expensive process of 10 to 15 years wait for the coveted “green card.” Combined with a guest worker program, a destruction of the family unity concept for a point system and, of course, the so-called national security framework which endangers civil and human rights standards, making mass persecution and the criminalization of immigrants palatable.
The two proposals are gross corporated esigned legislations that if approved will maintain undocumented immigrants in suspension of their basic human rights, leaving them brutally exploitable.
More than ever, the challenge of what is to be done comes to the fore.
Either the people and their organized forces conform to the crumbs on the negotiating table or fight back.
In the base, the millions of immigrants themselves are in a quandary.
But for the future of family unity and the millions more to come, the well-being of this nation’s whole working class and our civil and human rights as a society, the stakes are very high. The result will set the path for a higher or a lower standard of living for all for years to come.
Apologists for the dead Senate bill have been saying that while the proposals are not perfect to “fix” the broken immigration system under present conditions “it’s the best we can get.” Additionally, it has to happen this year because the presidential campaign will take precedence and there will not be another opportunity for years.
It’s imperative to look at history. From 1982 to 1986, until President Ronald Reagan signed the amnesty law, the masses of undocumented immigrants, then an estimated six million, organized and demonstrated militantly.
We mounted the massive effort for amnesty into the historic “Jesse Jackson for President campaign of 1984. It was this campaign through California’s Democratic primary, which I was directing in the Latino community.
10~000 GATHER IN DOWNTOWN L.A.
On May 19 of that year we held the largest yet street protest for immigration rights, 10,000 in downtown Los Angeles.
Jackson and my brother Antonio Rodríguez led it. It was for legalization’ no raids or deportations, and against the Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill.
We then tactically had Jackson stay at the home of Carmen Lima, an undocumented immigrant female leader of the Los Angeles grassroots movement.
That was a radical and highly symbolical move by the highest African-North American leader of the time.
From there we catapulted to the San Francisco Democratic National Convention, where several hundred Latino delegates frenetically demanded from the leadership to kill the bill.
13ut what put the icing on the cake was civil disobedience.
The offices of the top gurus of the National Democratic Party, the law firm of Mannat and Associates in Beverly Hills, were taken by 30 undocumented immigrants and leaders and held for several days.
The Simpson-Mazzoli bill was killed and replaced by lRCA 1986, the Simpson Rodino law.
Although it introduced employer sanctions and set four years of residency in the country to qualify, it was a generous amnesty. It empowered millions with “a permit to work, a one-year wait to get the green card and six total to gain citizenship and vote”.
It was the class action lawsuit, then the mass upsurge, the street heat, the presidential campaign, civil disobedience, militant tactics and a radical leadership that did it. The rest is history.
In this potentially last stage of the present struggle for the empowerment of the millions of undocumented workers, conditions for a more creative expression to fight back have to be analyzed and logically placed into practice.
IN 2006, HISTORYWAS MADE
In 2006, history was made with the largest mass movement in this country’s history. Today’s gigantic struggle for immigration reform is rich in its political and organizational expressions and legacy.
The immigrant rights movement and the immigrant worker have generated respect and solidarity, not only here but worldwide. In Los Angeles alone, the May 1 National Great American Boycott stopped a whooping 75% of production in, almost all the industries where Latino immigrants labor was critical.
Latest polls clearly indicate majority support for legalization. The millions who marched in 2006 and 2007 did so to demand empowerment, not near slavery.
WE NEED TO PUSH RIGHT BUTTONS
We need to push the right buttons. Set the network of forces on the chosen targets which could give premium political results that will essentially force the political establishment to concede.
All targets in the political arena are fair game, including the Republicans, the Democrats, the Latino Establishment and brokers. The fundamental tactics of mass expression include street demonstrations, the boycotts and civil disobedience that exist in our political memory and our history. Hispanic Link.
(Political strategist Javier Rodriguez was the initiator of the 1.7 million digitally counted mass protest of March 25, 2006 In Los Angeles. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org)