Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A day without immigants?

1 de mayo - Un día sin algunos inmigrantes?

The day of the big mobilization came and went. As I mentioned earlier I was somewhat disappointed with the events in Boston.

First, it did not seem like many immigrants answered the call to abstain from work and consumption. I can understand the work aspect, as that is a difficult choice and sometimes necessity and commitments trump solidarity.

I at least hoped that the rally at the Boston Common would change my disappointment. I was encouraged by the memories of the previous rally on April 5, when I took my immigration class. That rally and march was so well attended, diverse, dynamic, and upbeat (it also helped that is was a glorious sunny day).

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Unfortunately, the rally on Monday was not as well attended. What bothered me more was the fact the speakers created a more adversarial and hostile atmosphere. I think it was because it was taken over by more "radical" groups (International Socialists, Anti-global youth, etc.) who were more interested in the "fight" than dialogue. The tone was matched by the gray skies and cold wind. The calls for social revolution and the complete dismantling of the borders is not only unrealistic, it will alienate those who are sympathetic to the struggles immigrants face everyday. Moreover, the "mainstream" press hones in on these positions, which plays into the image their "expert [unbiased] commentators" (Pat Buchanan et al.) want to promote.

I was encouraged that the marches out West were more successful and retained the tone of the original march: a celebration of immigrants and their social, cultural, and economic contributions to this country.

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It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If I don't find any "real" work in NY, I might go into some political activism. I really think we need to move from the civic engagement we have seen over the past month to political action and participation. Unless these people marching vote, the outcome might be more detrimental to the cause. There is a backlash to the voice immigrants have found and if those people who are hostile to this activism are the only ones who vote, it will set the whole movement back.

In addition to engaging immigrants politically, there needs to be an active outreach people to dispell myths regarding immigration.

Widespread Myths about Immigration
  • Immigrants are the poorest and least educated people from their country.
  • Most immigrants are illegal.
  • Most of these illegal immigrants sneak across the Mexican border.
  • Border control is/can be effective.
  • Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes.
  • Illegal immigrants come to freeload of the welfare system.
  • The arrival of immigrants leads to an increase in crime.
I can discuss the falicy of these in more detail if anyone is interested.

To end on a positive note, this was my favorite part of the day.

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The "crazy" guy in support of immigrants. He was friendly and he had a nice dog!

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