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News :: Human Rights : Labor : Race
Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
13 Apr 2006
Imagine trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States in the blistering heat of the summer, a trip that many people don’t survive, and running into an enormous wall that stretches as far as you can see in both directions for miles upon miles. Imagine suddenly becoming a felon, not because you committed a felony, but because the government changed the laws. Imagine getting arrested and spending three years in a federal prison for giving food and clothing to an immigrant. Imagine getting deported. Imagine facing even more racial profiling and harassment from police than you already do because 11 million “criminals” are running loose with the same skin color as you. This will be a reality if Congress passes “The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005,” also known as H.R. 4437. As Malena Mayorga, a community organizer for the local immigrant advocacy group Centro Presente, put it: “We’re not going to sit back and be obedient slaves.”
Starting with over 100 thousand people marching in Chicago, IL on March 10, 2006, millions upon millions of people have been taking to the streets in opposition to H.R. 4437, and the demonstrations are only growing. Nashville, TN saw 9 thousand protestors; Milwaukee, WI saw between 10 and 15 thousand; Phoenix, AZ saw 20 thousand; Denver, CO and Detroit, MI saw 50 thousand each; St. Paul, MN saw 30 thousand; Dallas, TX saw 500 thousand; and there were countless more demonstrations across the country. Between 500 thousand and one million people marched in Los Angeles, CA, making it the largest demonstration the city has ever seen. In addition to marches, tens of thousands of students have walked out of school nation-wide, and direct actions have been vibrant in cities with large immigrant populations.

Boston immigrant groups have joined in the struggle to oppose H.R. 4437 and the discriminatory sentiments that it represents. On March 27, thousands of people marched through downtown Boston to call for more humane immigration policies and to oppose the different bills being debated in Congress. Organized by the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA Coalition), the march was mainly composed of Latinos, including Brazilians and Haitians, but also drew Irish people, among others, including many undocumented immigrants.

“I’m amazed so many people are getting involved – without fear,” said Norma Aguilar of Boston, who emigrated illegally from El Salvador 12 years ago and now has official status. As the oldest of seven children, she worked for her town government in El Salvador to support her family. Since she couldn’t make enough money to enable her siblings to go to school, however, so she decided to risk moving to the United States. After she arrived, she stocked produce in supermarkets as an undocumented worker, earning $5.50 per hour and often working 12-hour shifts through the night.

She obtained a worker’s permit after a year and now has permanent residency. But she laments the way that her family has been scattered between two countries. Her father lives in Texas, her mother lives in El Salvador, and she has siblings in both countries. Now her mother has cancer, and it is nearly impossible for Aguilar or her family to travel to El Salvador to see her. “These policies are so cruel, so inhumane,” she said.

H.R. 4437 is the most repressive immigration bill in 70 years. Its provisions include, among other things, the building of a 700-mile wall along the US-Mexican border at points with the highest number of immigrant deaths; the banning of grants to government agencies that maintain a sanctuary policy; $3,000 fines for illegal immigrants before they get deported, turning the children of undocumented immigrants into “wards of the state”; making the housing of illegal immigrants a felony with a minimum sentence of three years in prison; and an increase of financial penalties for employing undocumented workers. On December 16, 2005, it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 239 to 182.

In response to the massive national protests, the Senate Judiciary Committee is debating a softer, more immigrant-friendly bill that includes provisions granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants who have worked in the country for the last five years after following a slew of requirements, such as learning English, paying a $2,000 penalty and back taxes, and undergoing a criminal background check. Also, President Bush, noting that the American economy could not function without immigrant labor, has proposed a guest-worker plan in which undocumented workers will be allowed to temporarily work legally in the United States with severe restrictions on their rights until they get deported, effectively creating a second class of human beings. As of press time, the Senate has not yet made a decision.

A second protest is planned for April 10 in coordination with a National Day of Action for immigrant rights. Groups will rally at Boston Common at 4:00 p.m. and then march to Copley Square. This protest will be sponsored by a broader coalition than the March 27 protest, according to Mayorga.

The March 25 Coalition Against H.R. 4437, an umbrella group that organized the huge marches in Los Angeles on March 24-25, is calling for a national general strike on Monday, May 1, 2006. Called “a day without immigrants,” the strike is being planned in order to demonstrate how important immigrants are to the national economy. According to Mayorga, Centro Presente has not yet decided whether it will endorse the strike. “We support actions that have a strong impact,” she said, but she went on to warn that “we need to be prepared for the consequences of people being fired.” Nevertheless, Aguilar enthusiastically supports the strike and said she will not work on May Day.

These recent protests are part of larger campaigns to promote immigrant rights in Boston. A campaign called “Keep Our Families Together,” sponsored by NALACC, calls for permanent residency, family reunification, more humane treatment of future flows of immigrants, increased integration into society of existing immigrants, and increased focus on the root causes of immigration, according to Mayorga. Centro Presente is working to have the city of Cambridge, and eventually other cities, pronounce itself a “sanctuary city” and “in favor of immigrant communities.”

Mayorga pointed out that the question of why people are forced to immigrate in the first place is completely lost in the national debate. “People used to be refugees of United States political policies in Latin America; now they’re refugees of our economic policies,” she said, citing controversial US free trade agreements with Latin America. Mayorga and her family immigrated to the US from El Salvador when she was eight. Government troops and paramilitary death squads supported by the US committed 96% of human rights abuses during the 1980s civil war in El Salvador, according to the United Nations’ Truth Commission. Mayorga’s family was forced to flee because her parents were human rights workers there. Now hundreds of thousands of small farmers and other workers have lost their jobs because of free trade agreements, forcing them to flee to the United States to support their families.

“If people are really concerned about immigration, they should support other countries’ right to independent, sustainable, self-determined development,” Mayorga said. She added, “If you stop stealing from countries – now that will cut down on immigration.”

For more information:

Note: Norma Aguilar’s interview was conducted in Spanish and translated into English by Andra Brosy.
See also:

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006

keep up the good work student underground
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
"real americans" vs. "criminals"
what a crock of mierda. so is that "polls are rising" crap- why are the republicans running scared all of a sudden? thanks for this comprehensive article, and here's hoping the people at mira and centro presente, etc, along with the workers they represent, see the value of strong demonstrations of anger and demands for justice on mayday, in order to head off the fascist legislation which is on the verge of turning this country's clock back to the jim crow or slave-hunting era. no compromise, full amnesty! si se puede!
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
Mexico has harsh anti-immigration laws and makes it very difficult for non-Mexicans to obtain work permits. When will the pro-immigration organizations demand employment equalty between Mexico and the US? Moreover, (and paradoxically) without repeal of NAFTA and provisions tha permit US companies to flood Mexico with subsidized goods, Mexican rural people cannot compete with US corporate farmers. International labor and environmental laws and treaties are also ignored by the quasi-fascist Mexican oligarchy.

Why is the US Left silent about the regime to the South?
Bernie Sanders Is A Lovable Token
14 Apr 2006
Proillegal immigrant forces now rely on hysteria to promote their cause and panic illegal workers who normally are political apathetics. In the real world, the "felon" provisions of the House bill were inserted without much debate (typical for congress, including for spending the Left supports) and set off this firestorm. Well the GOP leadership of Congress as I write is rescinding those provisions. So Congress upon its return later this month will decide between an open border/amnesty regime and tougher sanctions against employers(the real way to cauterize this infection) and enhanced border security. Perhaps not this year, but eventually tougher and enforceable employer sanctions and employee ID (biometric) will occur. Organisms that are not identified as legally American will be removed from our soil. But more importantly, employers will have to employ Americans at genuine market prices. But lay off the scare tactics. Only ignorant, illiterate illegals and deluded lefties would believe this nonsense. Another example of how divorced from reality the radical Left is from how to be successful in Washington.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
that's funny flipside, because according to the 2000 US census, 13.3% of americans ARE latino...
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
"see the value of strong demonstrations of anger and demands for justice on mayday, in order to head off the fascist legislation..."

No disrespect ment here, but who the hell do you think you are?!!? This "fascist legislation" as you call it is an attempt to strengthen a law that millions of immigrants are disregarding...making the illegal. What's wrong with having non-Americans respect our immigration law? If it's fascist to want laws respected, then I'm proud to be fascist!!!

You basically saying that you want illegal immigrants to try and hold America hostage, until your demands are met? Sounds like a form of terrorism to me. We're in a war on terrorism and you're flooding our streets in a form of economic you want a war to come to Americas strees? Oh wait, you probably don't care because you are flying Mexicos flag, hate America, right?

If all we have is illegal immigrants not work May 1...we'll be fine, the lawns can wait. We're all immigrants here, so having all immigrants skip work or scool won't really make a point, because then everyone would have to stay home. This law is only anti-illegal immigration...which is totally fine with the majority of Americans.

"...which is on the verge of turning this country's clock back to the jim crow or slave-hunting era. no compromise, full amnesty! si se puede!" make no sense. The immigration law isn't changing, just the penalty for breaking it. Go back to the drawing board and come up with another scare tactic. This one is not factual.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
Yay micah. That's using your brain. That means that
9.3 percent of Latinos are against illegal immigrants.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
great article, keep up the good work :-). Could someone post more pictures? Also, I heard the estimate was 10,000 people- do you think that was right?
There is going to be a protest against the bill in Lowell in about a month. Once I get more details they will be posted.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
flipside, you said "96% of Americans say fuck mexico, so lets put this herd of rampaging spics in perspective shall we?" you didn't mention illegal immigrants, you mentioned "spics", which made up 13.3% of the population in 2000, and probably make up more now. and where did you get the idea that this bill has 96% of the country's support? the minutemen?

i'm obviously part of a progressive social network and i hang out with libertarian and leftist people more often than other people, but besides on indymedia, i don't think i've met a single person that supports HR4437. if it had that much support, the senate wouldn't be debating it right now. it would be law.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
14 Apr 2006
michah: Most of the conservative and grass roots Repbublicans are against a guest worker program, tight border security, and aggressive enforcement against employers. Many, perhaps not most, would deport anyone without papers, but the practical fact is that no one has the resources to deport 20 million people. The achilles heel of the immigrnt/illegals is employment-dry up wages, immigrants will leave. Likewise, dry up medicaid and other govt assistance. Illegals really don't except for schools use a lot of govt services more than average citizens since illegals work. If they dont, they often return home.

for a flavor of the populist right views on immigrants and illegals, see (buchanan's journal) and

Of course the business community and some contractors who are Republicans love illegals for low wage reasons.

The felony provisions of the House bill were a huge tactical mistake; they are dead. Readers shoudl know however if Pelosi and the Demcorats had not supported the felony provisions, they would not have passed the House. I'm sure no one at the immigrant rallies mentioned the votes of the "liberals" in the Massachusetts delegation and Nancy "I Love Gays and Immigrants" Peolosi to label illegal immigrants as felons.

The President opposed these punitive measures.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
16 Apr 2006
Surveyor, the felony provisions of H.R. 4437 were more than just a "tactical mistake;" they were a logical error as well. The reasoning behind those provisions was that one can become a felon simply by assisting a felon. By that reasoning (put forth so rotundly by Representative Sensenbrenner), anyone who assisted Bush during the 2004 elections - through campaign contributions, volunteering, etc.- should be declared guilty of war crimes.

It is by now obvious, even to readers of the corporate press, that Bush's invasion of Iraq was an unprovoked war of aggression, and therefore a war crime. Should his plans of using nuclear weapons during a war of aggression against Iran materialize, he will be guilty of even greater crimes.

Of course, the right-wingers who have jumped on the bandwagon of hatred of immigrants are not capable of logically analyzing their opinions. The trolls who post garbage about "spics" on this web site do so for one of two reasons: either their favorite right-wing talkshow host has goaded them on, or they realize at some level that it is now too embarassing to publicly admit their previous support for Bush and his disastrous policies. Incapable of honestly analyzing their own opinions, they instead lash out at those who are more vulnerable than they are.
The real name of the guy calling Latinos spics is...
16 Apr 2006
Just for the record, the real name of the person smearing Latinos with the racist term "spic" is Robert Goodwin.

Personally, as a person intimately connected to the Latin community, I find "spic" as offensive as "nigger". That Robert Goodwin would come here and use that term as a racist insult says much about who Robert Goodwin is.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
16 Apr 2006
Any serious analysis of current immigration issues in America will arrive at the conclusion that the "free trade" agreements of the last 15 years have caused most of the problems. These were, you'll remember, sold to us with the argument that "trade" (read: unregulated capitalism) makes everyone more prosperous. That sales pitch is belied not only by the fact that remittances from emigre workers are a significant part of the national income for a number of Latin American countries; it is belied also by the conditions at the maquilladoras in Mexico, the sweatshops in Haiti, etc. Even Charles Dickens would be appalled were he to tour those places today.

In short, the "invisible hand of the free market" has been flipping the bird to the Latin American working class more and more openly in recent years. If we in the U.S. pretend that we are victimized by working-class immigrants, we are ignoring the reality that we've complacently believed the "free trade" sales pitches foisted on us by politicians and business people alike.
Trot out the Ice Bucket
16 Apr 2006
$, finally somone has somehting constructive to say on this immigration/labor topic. all workers are screwed by "free trade"... Both Dems and Reps support free trade. Every now and then fat Chappaquuiddick Teddy will burp something about fair trade, but his major focus is making sure that duties on malt scotch are low.

Hilary/bilary are likewise more interested in attendance at the meetings of the international elite in Switzeraland(homeland of John Theresa Pittsburgh Davos Kerry.

We can cut deals with specific countries whose business we need; even whose workers we could have "exchanges" with in lieu of unrestricted immigration. But textiles, toys, cars etc that Americans buy should be American.

We need a progressive Joe McCarthy to smear the traitors in both parties who have sold American workers out for the benefit of the international financial powers fronted by Kerry and Teddy "Gurgle" Kennedy.

As for the Trotskyist scum who hate American nationalism and sponsor the unrestricted immigratiion rallies, they should be flown to Cuba. There they would see what a real Stalinist/fascist does to Trots. (Fidel, would you get me some ice?)
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
16 Apr 2006
If we're going to be deporting people who speak a different language, let's start with our tens of thousands of MBAs, born and bred of good American stock in places like Bentley College and the Harvard Business School.

They have added nothing to our culture but the leveraging of synergies, a proficiency in PowerPoint, and our first MBA president, whose knowledge of the Constitution is limited to the words "Commander in Chief" (the remainder of his copy of that document has been redacted for national security reasons). They have abandoned their imaginations, their intellects, and their sense of responsibility to the false science of capitalist economics, all just to make a buck. With their small-minded belief that democracy means either manipulating public-opinion polls or voting someone off of Survivor Island, these MBAs have less knowledge of democratic government than do the illegals who have the courage to risk their jobs in order to protest for their rights.

Let's remember, too, that while many of the illegals can speak two languages, our first MBA president - in his hurry to get that degree - couldn't be bothered to learn his own.
Civil Rights Human Rights Planet Rights
16 Apr 2006
...ah, well... dont feed the trolls, treolls only eat bullshit andyway so dont feed the trolls, as who likes bullshit? ;)

these issues of Class and Race are not going to just go =away easily.. folks who like to talk big mean about police and torture and throwing people out would surew hate to get their house impounded for drug charges, or whatever else they are up to themselves.. most people have closets, and bones under their own beds...

who loves meanspirited people?
its high time to have open discussions of these issues. Good work everybody for taking to the streets till they CANT ignore thexe issues - but taking to the streets isnt the only tactic - go to church or temple and pray with people more conservitive than you, get to know them where they hang out, then bring up the issues in an open and loving spirit
Take the issues home with you on the holidays, make the parents deal with you as adults, not kids
you have children? the best thing you can do is teach them not to hate blindly, and to consume wisely, or as little as possible
media literacy, actual literacy, bi and tri- lingualism, multifaceted approach, education
each one teach one - thats how we will come through this as the Human Race.

one people, one planet, time is running out
no more time for simplistic & divisive bull.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
18 Apr 2006
Imagine trying to cross the threshold from the street into someone's home in the blistering heat of summer, a trip that many people don’t survive but those who do not survive are the homeowners.Imagine running into an enormous wall that stretches as far as you can see in both directions for miles upon miles. Imagine suddenly becoming a felon, because you committed a felony namely breaking and entering. Imagine getting arrested and spending three years in a federal prison for aiding and abbeting the person who is breaking and entering.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
19 Apr 2006
Wishing for a "progressive Joe McCarthy" is as nonsensical as Bush's claims to be a "compassionate conservative." Have the trolls forgotten that vacuous slogan in their hurry to jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon?
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
19 Apr 2006
Nowadays, self-pity is one of the defining characteristics of the American Right. They talk like victims, but act like predators.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
20 Apr 2006
speaking of predators, how bout that Hilary Clinton. You know what I'm talking about.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
20 Apr 2006
As we are typing, people from the south hemisphere are dying while emigrating to the north. Emigration is the way in which the planet is trying to save itself from a certain and slow death from overpopulation, polution, disease and lack of love. There's nothing we can do to stop it. Not only because a law is law it means is justice. The immigration laws of the north hemisphere are not fair because they are based and sustained on greed. Emigration of the poor will persist and eventually succeed because its origin is generosity, care for others and compassion. So, keep going. Kvetch. In the meantime, the poor wil keep coming, to work with the sole purpose of sharing and sustaining the poorer. And as the haggadah reads: "We were slaves in Egypt, to the Pharaoh, and in Dachau, to Hitler, and we were denyed basic rights, we were separated from our family and were not seen as human beings.... WHAT ELSE IN NU?????????????????????????????
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
20 Apr 2006
The right wing can have Hillary Clinton. After all, she's now giving speeches in which she praises Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
29 Apr 2006
I will not join the boycott. In fact, I will oppose the boycott and have encouraged friends to do so as well. How will I do this? I have allocated $500.00 to buy things on Monday that I would not have otherwise bought. I will patronize business, especially hispanic businesses who stay open. In addition, there is a growing number of people who will take note of the businesses that are closed on Monday and we will boycott those businesses on the 5th of May. This boycott will backfire. Why will it backfire? Because people are angry at those who break our laws to come here for personal economic benefit and then try to hurt the economy that they are here to exploit. Yes, this will cause a backlash. This will be the catalyst of anger that has been missing from the mainstream American mind. People have felt bad for the illegals. Not any more.
29 Apr 2006
By eight-to-one, Americans think it is unfair to grant rights to illegal immigrants while thousands of people wait each year to come to the United States legally. Fully eighty-six percent of Republicans think it is unfair, as do seventy-seven percent of Democrats.
Opinion Dynamics Poll for FOX News, April 4-5, 2006

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay significantly higher prices for some goods and services should that be the result of tighter control of the southern U.S. border and a resulting lower number of undocumented workers.
Zogby Poll, March 31-April 3, 2006

Fifty-six percent of Americans polled say the U.S. should NOT grant temporary-worker status to foreigners who are here illegally, as this would make them and their families eligible for government services while they are here. We should not reward people who have broken the law, and this will encourage even more people to enter the United States illegally.
NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, March 10-13, 2006

Fifty-three percent of Americans oppose President Bush's guest worker-amnesty plan for illegal aliens from Mexico.
Hart/McInturff / The Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll, April, 2005

Fourteen percent of Americans "strongly favor" President Bush's proposal to allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States to apply for legal, temporary-worker status.
Angus Reid Global Scan, April 2005

Two-thirds of likely voters in Florida oppose a plan to allow some illegal aliens to live and work legally in the U.S.
Research 2000 Florida Poll, March, 2005

72 percent of Mexican migrants said the would participate in a program that offered the prospect amnesty for illegal aliens who lived here for five years, continued working and had no problems with legal authorities. Respondents who said they had no U.S.-issued ID were even more positive (79 percent).
Pew Hispanic Center survey of Mexican migrants, March 2005

Fifty-seven percent of respondents oppose a program in which illegal aliens would be allowed to live and work legally in the United States.
Westhill Partners/Hotline Poll, February, 2005

Sixty-eight percent of Texans say the federal government shoud not make it easier for illegal aliens to obtain U.S. citizenship.
Scripps Howard Texas Poll, March 2004

Fifty-six percent of adults say they'd oppose a program in which illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico would be allowed to live and work legally in the United States.
Gallup Poll, Feb. 9-12, 2004

No issue upset the public more than President Bush' amnesty/guestworker proposals, with only one-third of Americans supporting him on that.
CBS News/New York Times Poll, January 2004

Seventy-four percent of resondents believe the U.S. should NOT make it easier for illegal aliens to become citizens of the U.S.
CNN/Gallup/USA Today Poll, January 2004

Fifty-two percent of Americans oppose President Bush's guest worker-amnesty program for illegal aliens from Mexico; 57 percent oppose such a program for illegal aliens from other countries. Furthermore, at least twice as many Americans strongly oppose the proposal as strongly support it.
ABC News Poll, January, 2004

Americans, 2 to 1, oppose granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
Zogby Poll, June 2002

Americans oppose amnesty, nearly 2 to 1. Hispanics are less likely to vote to reelect Pres. Bush if he supports amnesty.
Zogby Poll, September 2001

Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose amnesty for illegal aliens.
Gallup Poll, August 2001 national poll of 1,000 adults

61 percent of Americans oppose granting amnesty to illegal aliens.
Harris poll, August, 2001
Re: Civil Rights: The Second Wave, Bostonians Call for a Humane Immigration Policy
10 May 2006
All the bill is asking is that people follow law. I don't find that offensive. I know there are immigrants here who have embraced the opportunity, and I agree some reform may be needed. No one wants to talk about the people who are here abusing the system, and feel this country owes them everything.
30 May 2006
I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you!