From Javier Rodriguez H. Media & Political Strategist for March 25th
Coalition of Los Angeles July 9, 2006
Yesterday Saturday July 8, at the NLCR National Conference, at the close
of the first immigration panel, in the most diplomatic fashion, I
extended an invitation to Angelica Salas, CHIRLA's Executive Director a
long time committed defender of immigrant rights, but also supporter of
the present compromise on immigration reform for a concerted public
debate. The basis for my proposition, I told her, are the major
differences we exhibit daily in our approach to resolve, one of the most
pressing issues in this country, the regularization of the estimated
twelve million immigrants in the US. I conveyed the idea that it was
time to communicate with civility and that we could converse over the
details and the rules of conduct in the public encounter. She agreed we
would talk over the venture and we exchanged cards.
As you are also aware, yesterday, our March 25 Coalition staged a
protest at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the NCLR Conference site.
It was over that organization's support of the S2611 Hagel- Martinez and
the Sensenbrenner Bills. Both which our coalition, as well as over four
hundred national organizations oppose. In this column we have the
AFL-CIO, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and most
of the coalitions that were galvanized to the mega marches and the
boycott during these last four months. Additionally we protested the
inclusion of 1) former President Bill Clinton, the Operation Keeper
signee which has brought us over 4,000 deaths and continuing, plus the
unbearable pain for hundreds of thousands of immigrants having to cross
in the most dangerous desolate areas of the border. 2) The presence of
Karl Rove, the Bush Administration Rasputin and war monger, 3) the US
Marines sponsoring Latino Leadership, a no brainer, with deaths of over
2,500 American soldiers and more dramatic over 100,000 Iraqis dead, in a
fabricated war for Corporate America, the unmistakable enemy of Labor.
Furthermore, NCLR is one of several Latino Establishment national
organizations (who were co-opted by the Mexican Government of Carlos
Salinas de Gortari) who brought us NAFTA, vehemently opposed by Labor
and signed by Clinton in 1993. NAFTA was supposed to have elevated
Mexico to the First World and was to also end immigration. Predictably
the opposite ensued: mexico's poverty rate has increased fifty to sixty
million people, thanks to NAFTA's savage exploitation of Mexican
resources and labor and US protectionist trade. The result has been the
escape valve, more immigration.
Amazingly, except for the AFSCME speaker, none of the above was
addressed by LA County Federation-Maria Elena Durazo, UFW-Arturo
Rodriguez, SEIU-Eliseo Medina, John Wilhelm-HERE, or CHIRLA's Angelica
Salas. No analysis of capital and the globalization of labor, nor the
concentration of wealth and the expansion of world poverty and misery.
And it was clear from the panelists, both for the morning session as
well as the afternoon "Town Hall" gathering sponsored by SEIU, that the
hot topic was immigration reform. Over three hundred people attended the
Town Hall meeting. And of course the panel was stacked five to one in
favor of the more conservative Change to Win Labor Coalition and the
NCLR facilitator, Cecilia Munoz. The program was absolutely orchestrated
with handpicked floor participants and SEIU and HERE members were herded
in as cheer leaders or "acarreados by their Charro leaders" as we
Mexicans say. Opposing views were almost obliterated. After UTLA's Sarah
Knopp spoke against the "compromise" I was finally going to be given
the floor, but then the red alarm sounded and that old UFW icon, who got
a standing ovation minutes before, hurried to the isle, took the
microphone and attempted to divert the topic. Then, according to
Yucatan's Federation President Gladys Pinto, the NCLR floor worker had
been instructed by SEIU Mike Garcia to not give me the floor.
So the young lady in the Washington suit, confused, looked at me, as if
to apologize, turned and walked to Cecilia Munoz and obviously informed
her of the uncomfortable developments and suddenly the "Town Hall"
discussion came to a stop. Of course I was going to add to Knopp's
intervention and emphasize that experts, dozens of them, including
Constitutional Atty. Peter Schey and our own Atty. Isabel Rodriguez,
estimate that under the Martinez-Hagel three tier legalization plan over
6 of the 12 million targeted immigrants will be left out of and probably
worst in the compromise with HR4437. But also as important I would have
pointed out the super long wait for the five year or more qualified
undocumented applicants. Initially with the earned legalization concept,
they will get 6 years of consecutive permits and then after apply, if
they still qualify, for permanent residency. It will not be automatic
for they will then be placed in back of the line of the 3.3 million
other would be immigrants in process. Because the reform does not
address this long waiting line, ahead are another 6 to 8 more years, of
course with permits, to obtain the coveted "Green Card". And further,
another five years to qualify for citizenship.
This hard reality can not be hidden. The 2.5 million that were left out
of the IRCA Amnesty of 1986 will have had a 42 year wait to vote. For
remembrance, with the 1986 legalization, the immigrant population
applied immediately and was given a one year permit for $150.00 and at
the end of that year, the applicant received the Residency Card. Five
years after, citizenship. . As simple as that.I know, our Esat L.A.
center processed over 10,000 applicants.
These and dozens of other reasons are why over four hundred national
organizations, including us the March 25 Coalition of Los Angeles and
San Diego, are campaigning to derail the draconian compromise. We
believe these bills are totally corporate designed to continue the
modern enslavement of the immigrant population. We definitely know the
millions the people, who marched and boycotted, did so, for full
legalization and family unity. Not for more border deaths, walls,
increased militarization or the criminalization of working people.
Interestingly, the NCLR gatherings showed the superficial depth of the
compromising faction in this historic movement. The LA March 25th one
million plus demonstration, the galvanization of the country's immigrant
population and the massive May 1st Gran Paro Americano/ The Great
American Boycott, were not mentioned period, zilt, in the compromiser's
presentations. And this campaigns, without a doubt, are both a People's
American Story. March 25th was hatched in three weeks, with a $15,000
budget and a much heralded but masterful media and political strategy.
All this in spite of the attempts to co-opt it, divide it, derail it,
clearly sabotaged by the SEIU and County Fed Pit Bulls, in addition to
the government and corporate funded immigrant rights organizations
mercenary "Media Consultants". This massive mobilization, the largest in
the history of this movement, made history and injected the immigrant
community and its allies unto the national scene as never before. Then
came April 10th -which directly was not ours, but by then we were
organizing the national boycott. Another first. And we shut down
Southern, Central and Northern California and many parts of the country.
Again, in spite of this gigantic grass roots efforts being "Scabbed
on", by all of the above, plus Cardinal Roger Mahoney, Mayor Antonio
Villaraigoza, Gov. Shwarzenneger, and President Bush, never the less, in
large and small cities, millions were mobilized. It was absolutely the
dream of "A Day without Immigrants" made a reality, a militant reality.