Monday, May 01, 2006

A Day With 75,000 Immigrants

Andrew and I walked with our gardeners and day laborers and crop pickers today in Denver.

I've weighed in before on illegal immigration. Complicated and difficult stuff. Good and reasonable people can disagree on how to handle it.

But Colorado is home to some of the least enlightened voices. One of our congressmen leads the "make 'em all felons and deport the whole bunch" crowd. So we thought a show of support for our neighbors would be good.

Everybody gathered in the morning near North High School which is the heart of the Latino community in Denver. About 75,000 people turned out. We walked together three miles to the State Capitol for a rally against potentially inhumane and unrealistic immigration policies.

I've been involved in mass action before and have been arrested doing civil disobedience more than a few times in my past.

Compared to those previous experiences, the folks who organized this thing get high marks for sure.

The atmosphere was festive and positive. No violence and no knuckleheads.

The organizers here also downplayed the national economic boycott. I think they understood that the business community tends to stand for the most reasonable immigration policies.

One older marcher wore a t-shirt that said "I work cheap so you can eat."

These people are nobody's fools.

They know the business community here takes advantage of them but they also know this is their best shot at feeding their families and giving their kids a shot at something better.

If the minimum wage was $70 an hour in Canada (about the equivalent minimum wage difference between the US and Mexico) how many Americans do you think would be crossing the border to the north?

And everything was on time. We started the march at exactly 10:30 am and the rally at the capitol started at the stroke of noon.

Punctuality probably isn't the highest value among Latin American cultures.

Any organizers that can get 75,000 Latinos to be on time should be in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq :^)

Some people I know question the value of mass action or civil disobedience.

I understand why certain people feel that way. We're still living in the backlash against 60's style activism.

And it's true that major marches and protests and even civil disobedience are only one element of a much more involved equation for positive change.

But I'd say the last 15 years around the world have been the greatest era of effective non-violent mass action in recent history. More on that in the next post.

This type of mass action--particularly right now--may well be a two edged sword. Lots of folks who want to pass the harshest anti-illegal immigration measures will get busy.

But I think a whole lot of folks in Washington and in state capitols are paying close attention to millions of future potential Latino voters marching in the streets. Every new show of resolve increases the chances for reasonable legislation.

The Dude Gets Political


Blogger 3wishes said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. I'm sure my view of this would be similar. But after going through the immigration process my thoughts are stuck there. We did without and paid much to do it legally. I hope they pass some kind of work visa and make things simple.

10:29 AM  
Blogger limco said...

I fully support the immigrants and hope that legislation gets passed that is humane and recognizes the reality of the current situation. If the illegals could get worker visas then they could start paying income tax and many of the complaints about them would cease. If the issue is that they are a drain on the economy then the logical thing to do would be to allow them to contribute their tax money by giving them a way to be charged income tax. The radical calls for sending them all back to their home countries are not dealling with reality and only inflame the issues. Millions of people with many legal relatives are not going to go "home". I think we need to realize that the US is home for many of these people. I wish I had been able to be at the rally.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NO Immigrants!!! now they're asking for jobs fine... next they're gonna ask for parlimentary rights then wht next...the presidency..!!!!

10:11 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Yes, I think they're looking to take over parliament and then the presidency.

No need to overdo the hillbilly satire, anon.

Some things satirize themselves.

10:43 PM  
Blogger jon said...

Overall I thought that the economic boycott was a bad idea and that the rallies aren't particularly helpful at this point. But if I was living in Colorado...I definitely give you a pass for that.

"Any organizers that can get 75,000 Latinos to be on time should be in charge of the reconstruction of Iraq :^)"

Ha! Amen to that (and the same goes for Egyptians and most of the other ethnic groups out there as well. On time is quite impressive.)

10:58 AM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

I had the honor in 2 cases on Monday to meet up with 2 diff. minorities. The first was a pleasant A/A female attending Brown Univ. who offered to switch seats with me so that I could enjoy my flight with DH. The second was a young latino male from El Paso that was wearing his fatigues with a patch recognizing him as attached to the 101st airborn division. He was on his way for his first tour in Iraq. We had great conversation until the ruckus aboard the tram started. It was just the 3 of us, 2 older Wasps and a soldier. The A/A female driving the tram said "So sorry but its shift change, my replacement is late, I have to go". Is that not ironic? 2 wasps going home, 1 latino bound for hell and we just sat there and stared at each other, smiled, laughed and said "What the heck". The replacement driver shows up 10 min later....the dispatcher coming over the radio trying to figue out what was going on.......the soldier wasnt in a hurry and we were thankful for a few more minutes to ponder this weird world.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

Yeah, mass action is tricky business cuz it's all about symbols. Wielding symbols sometimes produces unintended consequences. Can be a good example of needing to be careful what you wish for.

Weird world. Yes :^)

4:41 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:27 PM  
Blogger 3wishes said...

Wondering what that razor wire around the mini pentagon symbolizes. Surely they will let me in, no?

10:13 PM  

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