Photos by Luis Judiz
About sixty defenders of immigrant
rights rallied in downtown
Napolitano had announced a few days
earlier that, beginning in January 2008,
Napolitano underlined her message by sending a letter to the leaders of her Democrat Party in Congress, Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid. She blamed the Democrat-controlled Congress for not enacting tougher anti-immigrant laws on the federal level. This forced her to act on the state level, she claimed.
The rally protesting Napolitano’s
actions was called by the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, the leading
immigrant rights organization in southern
Among the groups supporting the rally, besides the May 1st Coalition, were No More Deaths, Tierra y Libertad, Citizens for Border Solutions, and Fundación Mexico.
At the rally Isabel Garcia, the
leading spokesperson for Derechos Humanos,
denounced the brutal emphasis on enforcement, which denies the humanity of
undocumented workers and disregards the economic conditions that compel them to
seek jobs in the
Clarke, speaking for the May 1st Coalition, also decried the practice of scapegoating and criminalizing immigrants without looking
at the causes of immigration. She reviewed the history showing that the
Eduardo Quintana, a trade union member of the May 1st Coalition, declared, “We’re not going to stand still while working families are raided.” Napolitano, he said, has joined the campaign blaming immigrant workers for all social ills.
Leilani Clarke, above, holding sign. Isabel Garcia is to her left.
All workers have to stick together, Quintana said, whether they are “documented” or not. He cited the months-long fight recently waged by his union, the Machinists, against a company that was making 42 percent profits, the highest in years, and yet was attacking the workers’ standard of living. With support from the community and from workers in other unions, the Machinists were able to win their strike. This shows that when workers and the community are united, we can move mountains. “The problem is not immigrant workers. The problem is corporate greed.”
César Lopez, speaking for Tierra y Libertad, questioned whether Napolitano had “sold out.” When had she ever “bought in” to the cause of human rights and workers’ rights in the first place? The solution is not to support lying politicians but to support grass roots community organizing.
Corinne Bancroft, a volunteer with
No More Deaths, expressed disappointment with Governor Napolitano’s actions,
which turn human beings into mere objects for police enforcement. She also
criticized Napolitano for refusing to recognize the unity and
interconnectedness of the Mexican and
The speaker from Citizens for
Border Solutions, based in
In closing the rally, Isabel
Garcia, questioned the
She ended by repeating: “We will continue the fight to abolish the Border Patrol and all border enforcement. No more agents! No more cameras!”
Some Background on Napolitano
Janet Napolitano was elected
(The president of the AFL-CIO is John Sweeney; the vice president, Richard Trumka. A special new post was created, a third top office of the AFL-CIO, to accommodate Linda Chavez-Thompson, previously a high-ranking leader of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees—AFSCME.)
But we are talking about Janet, the “friend of labor,” not Linda, the labor “leader” who campaigned for Janet.
A couple of years ago Janet
Napolitano, the liberal Democrat who was elected in such an unlikely victory in
this long-time conservative Republican state, showed her true colors. Lining up
with the so-called Minutemen opponents of human rights for immigrants, Janet
sent the National Guard to back up and assist the Border Patrol along the
Now Napolitano has gone a step
further as she joins in with the policies of militarization and police
enforcement that have become the preferred choice for the politicians and pooh-bahs of the
As Isabel Garcia pointed out,
Take the example of Bruce Babbitt,
also a Democrat governor of
The record of these Democrat Party “friends of labor” is clear enough by now, isn’t it? As Malcolm X said, the Democrats are like the crafty, guileful racist fox compared to the openly racist Republican wolf. Malcolm advised African Americans to register Independent, not to sign up with either of the “boss man” parties. Malcolm was killed before he was able to organize an Independent Black Political Party, as he probably would have. But his idea of organizing Independent of the bosses’ political parties lives on after him.
Two wrongs have never made a right.
Yet Napolitano calls out Congress’s failure on comprehensive immigration reform only to then enact a failure herself.
HB 2779 is creating criminal rhetoric out of the most basic human need: being able to put food on the table for your family.
You have to deal with the underlying labor issue.
Napolitano feels that dealing with business matters is getting to the root of the truth on immigration, but again, she's wrong.
The only way to have true comprehensive immigration reform is to ask why immigration is happening in the first place, why millions of people are forced out of their homelands. And to connect the dots that we try so hard to keep hidden—maybe it all has something to do with this nation’s role in mass corporate globalization.
To all of a sudden—now, in the year 2007—promote the idea of trying to disrupt the use of cheap human labor, when this country itself was built on the use of cheap labor, is a farce. A rude joke, if nothing else.
That’s exactly what happened in the old southern plantations. The slaves became too abundant in number, and the white slave owners began to fear their growth, eventually forced to cave in to the idea of that blasted freedom, which will always be well behind profit and business in American priorities.
But freedom was won.
And that is what will happen here too.
So have as much “comprehensive” reform as you wish, throw out as many House bills and Senate bills as you want—they will always fail.
History will repeat itself and freedom will be won once again.
It’s set in stone, that’s human progress.