[Marxism] Report on Chicago Immigrant Rights Strategy Convention

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Thu Aug 17 09:55:13 MDT 2006

700 Immigrant Rights Activists form National Alliance; 
set protests for Labor Day weekend and September 30

By Joaquín Bustelo

     CHICAGO -– Hundreds of immigrant activists and supporters met in
Chicago August 11-13 in a national strategy convention of the
legalization-for-all wing of the movement.

	The event was the largest of at least three national gatherings of
immigration activists held over the summer, and the one that was directly
based on the “Calendar Coalitions,” as the Latino-led grass-roots-based left
wing of the immigrant rights movement is popularly known because many local
groups take their name from the date they were formed or held a significant
	The main decision of the convention was to found a National Alliance
for Immigrant Rights around the central demands of a halt to all
deportations and full legalization for all immigrants. A national
coordinating council was created with the participation of activists from
all over the country.

	“The most important thing is that we gave the movement a national
structure that will allow us to coordinate our actions,” Jorge Mújica, one
of the key organizers of the convention told reporters shortly after the
meeting concluded. 

	“We have transformed ourselves into a national movement.”

	The Alliance also projected a series of nationally-coordinated local
actions, the first during the Labor Day holiday weekend, the second on
September 30, right before the beginning of the government's new fiscal year
and Congress's adjournment for the elections.

	These protests will be demanding not just legalization for all, but
an immediate moratorium on all deportations and round-ups pending
Congressional enactment of a comprehensive immigration reform. 

	Right now Congress is deadlocked on the issue. The House has passed
a punitive, so-called “enforcement”-only act which militarizes the border
and brands all undocumented immigrants as “aggravated felons.” 

	Attempts by the Senate to reach a “compromise” with the House have
only led to a Senate Bill that incorporates many of the repressive features
of the House version and has a convoluted, multi-tiered structure for a
temporary semi-legalization that would not cover many millions of
undocumented workers already in the country and puts off citizenship for
those that do qualify almost two decades.

	This attempted “compromise” has been rejected by the Republican
House leadership.

	The conference voted to oppose both these bills. “Better no law than
a bad law,” said Nativo Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political
Association and a leader of the movement in Los Angeles. 

	Instead, the convention agreed to counterpose to bills like those,
an immediate a moratorium on raids and deportations pending further
Congressional action.

	The generalization of the moratorium demand to the national movement
as a whole represents an important advance in taking into account the
desperation of millions of undocumented who want full legalization for all,
but consider even a partial and punitive legalization better than no
legalization at all.

	Attendance at the convention far exceeded the expectations of the
organizers. They had expected 300 participants at the event. In reality more
than 400 formally registered, and many more participated without
registering. Organizers estimated that, in all, around 700 people took part.

	The big majority of those attending were Latinos, with Mexicans the
biggest Latino nationality, as they are in the population as a whole.
Reflecting the immigrant composition of the majority, the convention was
mostly conducted in Spanish with simultaneous translation into English.

	For many participants, an important part of the conference was the
convening of a women’s caucus that demanded full, equal participation by
women in all aspects of the movement.

	The impetus for the formation of the caucus came from Latina
activists in their 20’s who objected to the virtually all-male slate of
presenters and chairs organized for the first plenary session of the

	The convention as a whole unanimously approved motions from the
caucus requiring equal female representation in all leading bodies and among
spokespeople and national coordinators.

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