Brothers and sisters:
Many people are asking themselves: what is the significance of the recent tabling of the “grand bargain” immigration bill in the Senate? The end of this bill is both a measure of our strength and our weakness as a social justice movement.
It is a measure of our strength that our collective activity was successful in defeating the proposal for massive criminalization in 2006 and made immigration reform a legislative priority in 2007. This included the historic marches of 2006 and 2007; participation in the 2006 elections, public resistance to recent raids, and forging key alliances.
Yet despite these tremendous accomplishments, we see that the “grand bargain” negotiated by members of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party fell tremendously short in its content and ultimately failed to move forward in the legislative process. Key leaders say they will not return to this issue until after the presidential elections in 2008.
Clearly, our pressure is not yet strong enough to pass fair and comprehensive legalization. It demonstrates the need to strengthen our base and continue to forge more alliances to force our federal leaders to return to this issue this year. We cannot allow our elected leaders to make excuses to avoid one of the most important civil rights and labor rights issues of our generation.
In the absence of a federal solution to the immigration problem, national politicians are allowing local and state politicians, law enforcement, and vigilantes to take the law into their own hands; such as local anti-immigrant ordinances that promote racism and labor abuse.
On the other hand, efforts of the immigrant community to demand their rights and dignity as human beings, has also achieved victories at the local level. The Police Departments in Whitewater and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, have passed written policies affirming the separation of the role of the police and immigration. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin three churches have agreed to offer sanctuary for persons facing deportation. These are important gains for the immigrant and labor rights movement and for US citizens affected by racial profiling.
In the short term, VF is organizing monthly Know Your Rights trainings, continuing to support the religious sanctuary movement, organizing and educating statewide through a Reality Tour scheduled for this month. We are also continuing to organize citizenship workshops, dialoguing with our allies and organizing for our Annual Meeting on September 29, 2007.
At the federal level, we believe that it is critical to continue to pressure for good legislation to be introduced in the House of Representatives this year and support the DREAM Act, which provides post-secondary educational opportunities for immigrant youth.
We need your help. We need the community to
commit and take the initiative to participate and promote workshops and events, distributing information and organizing neighbors, coworkers, parents, students, family, and friends locally and statewide.
Social justice is not won easily but we know that our unity, courage, and dignity shall achieve the justice we seek.
¡Si se puede! Yes, we can!