Reflections on the marches and 2008

Some people say that the marches have served no purpose; that indeed they are the reason for the increased repression of the immigrant community. Some believe that the marches are the reason that drivers licenses were taken away. To start we should reflect: what did the marches accomplish?

It is important to recognize that in Wisconsin the drivers’ licenses were taken away at the state level after passage of the federal REAL ID-a proposal by Wisconsin’s Congressman Sensenbrenner. This law passed before the marches.

This same congressman is the person who introduced the federal legislation HR 4437—which would have criminalized all undocumented persons-including children-and whatever person helped them—among them: teachers, priests and other religious leaders, doctors, lawyers, and organizations such as Voces de la Frontera which inform undocumented workers about their employment rights.

Anti-immigrant laws were already passing quickly. As was the case with HR 4437, the plan was in motion to move it quickly into law. But thanks to national networks of communication, organizations, and the massive response of the immigrant and Latino community that turned out to protest in the street in mass numbers, this legislation, one of the most repressive in our nation’s history, was defeated.

There was finally a national discussion about the need for immigration reform with a path to citizenship. That, unfortunately, due to the lack of leadership from our political leaders and a group of extremists and racists in Congress known as the House Immigration Reform Caucus, we have not yet realized.

We have to understand that the struggle is not easy because there is a lot of money that is being collected from the backs of immigrant workers and there is also the need for a scapegoat for problems in society-like the war in Iraq which is costing billons of dollars and unnecessary deaths. People in power do not want to accept responsibility for the increasing inequality between the social classes and they need to distract US citizens, directing their anger and hate towards new immigrants.

As we can see the struggle is difficult but not impossible to achieve through our unity and confidence. The marches are not the only form of organization in this social justice movement. It is important in 2008 that people who have the right to vote make their voice heard and that everyone continues to involve themselves in organizational efforts which are the means to defend ourselves from attacks from racist groups.

The greatest threat to the movement does not come from the government but the same people who criticize the unity of the community and make false accusations which only result in disorganization in a time when unity should be as strong as steel.