To begin. Should the Democrats be criticized for lack of progress on immigration? Yes. The Left and immigration groups have demonstrated outside of Democratic Party conventions since 1968, 1972, 1978, 1980, 1984, 2000 and more. Some of these were organized by the Civil Rights Movement and the Immigrants Rights movement. I remember working conventions here in Sacramento with Bert Corona. Yes, we should push the Democrats.
However, the protest of May 1, 2011, was more. For some it was opportunistic and for many it was disrespectful of Dolores Huerta.
Below are two videos of the events. They represent two sides of the issues. You can decide for yourself.
Protest against Dolores Huerta, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSiz3Ssnt7c
Dolores Huerta’s view of the protest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhlZFdR5itE&feature=related
Lets look at some arguments. Dolores says, Who passed SB 1070 in Arizona. It was the Republicans. She is correct. At this point she is shouted down by many protesters. They call her a sell out. Others chant for drivers licenses.
Well. Who passed legislation to provide drivers licenses for all in California- the Democrats. The bills were vetoed by a Republican governor.
And, on May 5, 2011, the Democrats passed on a party line vote the first of the California Dream Act bills.
So, Dolores has a point. Look up her history and you will see she has legitimacy.
The actions of the anti Dolores young people es falta de respecto.
We could just drop this and go on. But, there is reason to reflect more. The ongoing struggle for immigration reform has several important components. It was similar in 1986 when the prior bill – IRCA 1986- was passed.
One position is held by C.T.W, and SEIU, and is close to the position of the UFW. Eliseo Medina is a major spokesperson for this view. It includes an adjustment of status- legalization for millions.
It is criticized by others because it includes a form of guest workers. This is the criticism hurled at Dolores Huerta, the UFW and others.
Some immigrant rights activists argue that nothing like a Guest Worker program is acceptable. David Bacon is a well respected writer making this case as is Nativo Lopez of MAPA.
These divisions are substantive and important. Each of these positions have very extensive reasons for their positions. The SEIU position is here- http://www.seiu.org/immigration/
The reality is that immigration reform is most likely dead for now. The Republican victories in 2010 make any good immigration bill unlikely. To get a bill activists would have to accept the worst of Republican ideas.
The churches are another major participant in these struggles. They argue for comprehensive immigration reform, which would include adjustment of status for millions and some form of Guest Workers. You can find their positions here.
Here is how they explain their view of temporary workers.
“A comprehensive immigration policy change would include a worker program allowing people to enter the country legally to do work needed here.
It would include worker rights so that people entering the country would be paid equal wages and have the protections that would prevent them from becoming indentured servants.
U.S. workers would have the first shot at jobs, but migrants would have a chance if a U.S. worker is not found.
What would this kind of program do? It would ensure that migrants have a safe and legal pathway to work in the U.S., protecting them from exploitation by smugglers or unscrupulous employers and from death in the desert.
Comprehensive immigration policy change would include a pathway to citizenship for the 12 million people who are in this country illegally. “
While I and others oppose a new bracero program, we need to acknowledge that we presently have millions exploited as undocumented workers. WE have guest workers- they simply are undocumented.
As we work toward a realistic immigration bill those who wish to work together need to respect one another. We can debate and argue positions, but if you hope to pass anything you need cooperation.
The assault on Dolores was disrespectful. It prevents the possibility of working together cooperatively in the future.
In future disagreements it is fundamental that we accurately portray each others’ positions. We can not build a coalition to achieve immigration reform by distorting each others’ positions.