[Marxism] disgraceful campaign against May 1st boycott

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 20 11:49:02 MDT 2006

Many are calling the immigrants' rights movement the "New Civil Rights   Movement." One of many obvious parallels is the already-far reaching   political divide in the movement's ranks, in this case over the character of May   1st.    Unfortunately -- as [excerpts from] the three articles below detail -- some "leaders"   of the movement are denouncing the proposed boycott -- especially the work   stoppage component. If they were doing so because they honestly believed, based   on input from their constituencies, that a strike wasn't realistic, that the   numbers are too few to have an impact and/or to stop victimization, that would   be one thing. But that's not what's going on. Instead, they are arguing against   the politics of a boycott, saying it will alienate potential supporters. (See   examples in the articles below. In addition, among the supposed supporters they   are afraid of alienating and not mentioned below are "friends" in   Congress (statement of union
 official at NY meeting) and bosses (article in   today's el Diario)).    Attached [not in this copy, obviously] are two letters which the Chicago Worker Organizing Committee is   encouraging workers to use to protect themselves against victimization should   they strike on May 1st. Obviously the letters themselves are only one necessary   step in stopping reprisals. But the point is that those unions and other groups   which claim they oppose the strike because workers might get fired could be   mobilizing their members against victimization -- starting with a campaign in   defense of those already victimized.    A split in the leadership of the movement was inevitable at some point. Now that   it's come, the arguments of those who are politically against using the power at   the point of production of immigrant workers must be refuted.     Some arguing against a strike genuinely believe that we don't know yet if the   numbers are there to make it successful. That too is a
 valid -- perhaps the most   valid -- consideration for any strike. But obviously that's 180 degrees   different from arguing that a strike will alienate dubious allies.    Finally, the place for this debate to occur is within the ranks of the most   important coalitions which have organized recent actions, which represent mass   union and community groups, NOT, as Workers World/PLS has done, by creating   separate phony front "coalitions."    Andrew Pollack    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/20/washington/20immig.html?pagewanted=print  NY Times  April 20, 2006  Immigrant Groups Plan Campaign to Bring Legal Changes  By RACHEL L. SWARNS  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/20/washington/20immig.html?pagewanted=print
NY Times
April 20, 2006
Immigrant Groups Plan Campaign to Bring Legal Changes
WASHINGTON, April 19 — Leaders of the demonstrations that drew hundreds of 
thousands of immigrants into the streets last week announced Wednesday that they 
were planning voter registration and citizenship drives across the country in an 
effort to transform the immigrant community into a powerful, organized political 
But the leaders of immigrant advocacy groups remain sharply divided over whether 
immigrants should demonstrate their economic strength by staying away from their 
jobs, schools and local shops on May 1 in what organizers are calling the Great 
American Boycott of 2006.
In Washington, the leaders of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, an 
alliance of immigrant, labor and business groups, is urging immigrants to ignore 
the boycott and to participate in voter registration drives and other activities 
after attending school or going to work.
In Los Angeles, the leaders of some immigration advocacy groups are appearing on 
Spanish-language radio stations and warning listeners to consider the 
consequences of skipping work and keeping their children out of school, 
particularly because dozens of immigrants were fired after participating in last 
week's rallies. As an alternative, organizers are planning a five-mile march 
that people can take part in after work.
Anjelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights 
of Los Angeles, said she and others preferred to focus on events that would win 
over the American public, suggesting that a national economic boycott might 
unnecessarily alienate ordinary people and decision makers.
Ms. Salas and others are proposing a national day of community service, in which 
immigrants, some of whom are in the country illegally, would make repairs in 
local schools and paint community centers to demonstrate their value to the 
community and commitment to the country. The date for that demonstration has not 
been set.
"It is critical for us, that we really, as we move forward, take actions 
that are embraced by the American public, that touch the hearts and minds of the 
American public, that they get to know us, that they understand who we 
are," Ms. Salas said at a news conference here.
Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and 
Refugee Rights, said that this summer would be "an immigrant freedom 
summer," with citizenship and voter registration drives in various cities 
to ensure that immigrants would vote in Congressional elections this year and in 
the presidential election in 2008.
Oscar Sanchez, who handles public relations for the March 25th Coalition, said 
his group was undeterred by the concerns raised by the other advocacy groups. 
Mr. Sanchez said he expected the May 1 boycott to be a national success, with 
participation in at least 90 cities.
Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA of Maryland, an advocacy group, 
countered that the timing was not right for a boycott. Mr. Torres, who is a 
leading proponent of the community service day, said he and others wanted to see 
first how the Senate responded to the calls for legalization before taking such 
a step. 
Fearing Backlash, Some Immigration Activists Aren't Backing Boycott
By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006; A13
A panel of immigration activists said yesterday that it will not encourage 
workers and families to walk off the job and keep their children from school as 
part of a May 1 boycott, but will hold voter-recruitment and petition drives 
"We are going to have several meetings; we are going to have thousands and 
thousands of people sign petitions. . . . We will register people to vote and 
send thousands of e-mails to legislators," said Gustavo Torres, executive 
director of Casa de Maryland in Silver Spring.
Torres was joined on the panel by representatives from several immigration 
organizations, including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and the 
National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, both based in Los 
Angeles, and the National Capital Immigration Coalition in the District.
The panelists stressed that they were not discouraging others from boycotting. 
But later they said that they do not support the boycott because it could result 
in people being fired, cause students to miss school and create a climate of 
disgust that could lead to a backlash by Americans who are not immigrants.
"I don't know who they are [boycott leaders]," said Jaime Contreras, president of the 
National Capital Immigration Coalition. "I've never seen them."
But boycott supporters were in town yesterday, visiting Washington and walking 
around Mount Pleasant, the heart of one of the areas Contreras's group 
represents, trying to enlist support for the boycott.
They included Gloria Saucedo of Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana and Jesse 
Diaz Jr., both of Los Angeles. "Yes, we know about the press 
conference," Diaz said. "We weren't invited."
He said some groups represented at the news conference had split off from their 
cause and were now against it. Regardless, he said, the boycott has enormous 
support and will go on.
>From the Los Angeles Times
Immigrants Divided on Boycott
April 20, 2006
Some advocates also expressed fear that a boycott would increase negative public 
opinion, which began building after thousands of students walked out of classes 
last month, many of them waving the Mexican flag.
A boycott would create chaos as well as a backlash by giving fuel to the 
anti-illegal immigrant movement, said Spanish-language DJ Renan "El 
Cucuy" Almendarez Coello, a key figure in urging people to attend the March 
25 rally in Los Angeles, which drew an estimated 500,000 people.
"We came here to work and not to say 'don't work,' " Coello said in 
Spanish at the We Are America news conference at the Cathedral of Our Lady of 
the Angels, which featured Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala and more than 20 
immigrant workers and advocates.
But Nativo Lopez, a boycott supporter and president of the Mexican American 
Political Assn., said a more confrontational approach in the model of Cesar 
Chavez and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was needed to shake up the nation's 
power structure and demonstrate the indispensable role that illegal immigrants 
play in the economy. He questioned why organizations that celebrate the civil 
rights leaders through Masses and annual memorial events balk at following their 
"Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King were extremely militant advocates of 
Gandhian principles of civil disobedience, and they lived by those 
principles," Lopez said in an interview. "So what's the ruckus about a 
boycott? We need to put the focus of power with the worker and immigrants, not 
in the hierarchies, to resolve the immigration reform debate."
The two coalitions are also divided over immigration policy, with differences 
over proposed guest-worker programs, terms of legalization and employer 
Some of the We Are America coalition members support proposed Senate legislation 
that includes a guest-worker program and would offer most undocumented workers 
the chance to get in line for legalization after paying a fine and learning 
English. But Lopez's coalition rejects a guest-worker program as exploitative 
and is backing full and immediate legalization of all undocumented workers.
Lopez said the divergent tactics stemmed from the different nature of the 
organizations involved.
He said some of the We Are America organizations may feel constrained from 
joining the boycott by their mission, funders, or in the case of organized 
labor, their collective bargaining agreements that prohibit strikes.
By contrast, he said, most of those in the March 25 Coalition are Latino 
grass-roots organizations, such as his Mexican political group and various 
chapters of Hermandad Mexicana, the nation's largest organization of Latino 
immigrants that claims a membership of 30,000 families.
Lopez said that many of his coalition members draw their inspiration from the 
late Bert Corona, a Latino activist he described as the "modern founder of 
immigrant rights" who started the Hermandad organization in San Diego in 
1951 and was a mentor to Chavez.
Lopez said his coalition emphasized the direct and central role that immigrants 
should play in forming national policies that affect them.
"It is critical for us as we move forward that we touch the hearts and 
minds of the American people," Angelica Salas, executive director for the 
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said at a news conference 
in Washington. "We certainly agree that a boycott is legitimate, direct 
action is legitimate; the question is when."

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