I was asked to comment this week on a couple of issues on the immigration front, and on the so-called Latino movement in general.
Debbie Riddle (also known as La Bruja in our community) recently filed a bill which would make felons out of people who have employed undocumented workers. Under the bill, it would make people who “intentionally” or “recklessly” hire undocumented workers felons in the eyes of law. It is my belief that this bill will backfire on Debbie Riddle, because it is an attack on small business people around the state. It puts employers who might unknowingly hire undocumented workers on the defensive, because they will have to prove their innocence. This is a wakeup call for employers all over the state, who will have to choose sides. Employers can choose to support those who would make them felons or they can choose to support those who are fighting for human rights and full documentation on all workers. I think for most small business people, the choice is an easy one.
The Mexican Work Ethic
South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford was raising an argument as to why Arizona/apartheid-style immigration laws should not be imposed upon his state against undocumented workers. He charged that undocumented Mexicans work harder than blacks or whites. In so doing, Ford, who is black, echoed sentiments made by other black leaders in the past, including Minister Louis Farrakhan. We welcome support of all types for dignity for our undocumented brothers and sisters. However, it is a sad state of affairs when rights are granted or subtracted based on the commercial production of an individual. It is my hope to convince our allies that comprehensive immigration reform should come about as a matter of justice and equity, and not merely a matter of profits.
The 2012 elections will be an important cycle for people who believe in justice. Immigration and education reform are the most often cited issues of importance to our community. Health care reform could very well be voided by the Supreme Court by a very basic but prudent argument. Every interested person should have his or her eyes focused on the 2012 elections. For many years, I did not participate vigorously in the election process. I still believe that regardless of who is in office, people must organize all of their resources outside of the electoral system to influence the process. However, outside of Congress, there is no other body in the United States that can create the short term gain in immigration that we need. The Republicans have refused to meet our needs, and these Democrats have not been astute enough to do so. So we must prepare ourselves to find another way. It does our community no good to send Democrats who promise the moon (like Obama) but can’t deliver peanuts. Some of us are already discussing strategy for next year. I hope that you will join us.
Our cover story focuses on Brisenia Flores, a young girl who was killed by anti-Mexican terrorists. The story was not reported by the national press. For months, I believed that the story was ignored. As I began interviewing people closer to the story, they made me understand that our community was not simply being ignored, but that the press did not want to deal with the backlash from the anti-migrant community. We have not been ignored; we have been consciously blacked out of coverage.
The popular movement in Egypt is forcing their president from power. This is instructive for those of us wishing to better conditions for our people in this country. The mass uprising in Egypt came after years of small protest of no more than one thousand people. In the end, it was neither leaders nor parties who are forcing the president out of office; it was the people. Egyptian protest organizers say the same thing that many of said before the mass rallies in the US a few years ago: they could not have planned or seen the mass uprising coming in Egypt. When the people decide that their situation would be best improved by standing up like men and women, no forces are powerful enough to oppose them. Egyptians shut down the country for days on end, and they are achieving their goal. In the all the protests in the world may be available, but it will not be until the masses of our people decide that they will stand like men and women, regardless of the potential consequences, that we will achieve some of the goals to which we strive.