Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Immigration Protests Could Be Spark That Ignites Larger Movement Against Bush, etc


From: Mexico's ' La Jornada' -3/26/06

" The indignation provoked by the Sensenbrenner Law (H.R. 4437), which criminalizes immigration, has generated a national movement in the United States. In recent weeks, over 2 million people have taken to the streets demanding a just immigration reform. Saturday, March 25th half a million people marched in Los Angeles and 500,000 more in 14 other American cities condemned the racist and xenophobic measure. These demonsrations remind one of the events defending civil rights in that country in the 1960's, and as was seen before, such a movement could generate a great wave of opposition in the United States. One mustn't forget that the goverment of George W. Bush has provoked great discontent within the population, in particular for the invasion of Iraq and the incompetence it showed after the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina.
After the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, in 2001, the criminalization of immigration has become a characteristic of immigration politics in the United States. Authorities there have substantially increased the number of border patrol guards and have installed sophisticated equipment to detect people that cross the frontier. Even so, the migratory influx into that country has continued to increase.
According to official estimates, the number of undocumented people grew from 8.4 million in 2000 to 12 million today. But these numbers, which demonstrate the failure of this kind of control, mean nothing to the authorities, and the initatives that they will discuss in Congress this week continue along the same course followed since the attacks, giving priority to security over any other consideration, including humanitarian ones.
The reform measure written by Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, for example, contemplates building a wall on the border with Mexico and penalizing anyone who helps undocumented people. For their part, Senator's John Cornyn and Jon Kyl, of the same party (Republican), will present a project that would augment vigilance along the border and facilitate guest worker visas for the undocumented.
Truly, the restrictive proposals explain the reaction of the immigrant community, documented and undocumented. But the size and scope of the movement has been surprising. The strength of this conglomerate is such that its marches have surpassed the expectations of their organizers. For the Coalition for Political Rights Abroad, these demonstrations are an example of "the migrant community, documented and undocumented, who are every daily more aware of their rights and, stemming from the discriminatory measures which different sectors wish to impose, has finally learned how to apply pressure against the authorities and groups in power."
The movement of support for the migrants has united Mexicans, Irish and Poles, among other nationalities, and has brought together activists, religious leaders, media personalities, and important politicians. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, stood with the demonstrators. The Governer of Illinois, Rob Blagojevich, also participated in the protests and said that " the work of migrants is what has made Illinois and the United States great. The country needs to remember their contribution and efforts by keeping their families united."
These events may even mark a resurgence of the civil rights movement, which up to now has been lethargic and humiliated. Moving beyond the strickly defined theme of immigration, the protests seen these past few days could spark a much wider movement. After all, Americans have lots of reasons to march against the Bush Goverment. For this reason, the actions of the migrant community may pull civil society in the United States back together."