The Next Civil Rights Movement is Here

“There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever. They have kicked the sleeping giant. It’s the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle.” So says Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, quoted in today’s Los Angeles Times.

He was talking about the the massive demonstration in Los Angeles yesterday. According to police estimates there were 500,000 people in the streets of LA (and the police always underestimate these things) in favor of creating a path toward citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers already in the country. Two weeks ago more than 100,000 people turned out in Chicago for a similar protest, far surpassing in size the protests at the start of the Iraq War. In both cases, turnout was much bigger than organizers had hoped for. Demonstrations like these can change the political dynamic, spur others to action, and stiffen the backbone of wavering political allies.

For coverage see the LA Times, which also has a good set of photographs from the rally. The LA Indymedia site has many more images, these taken from inside the march (the images in this post are from LA Indymedia reports also give you a good sense of why so many people came out. The Sensenbrenner bill raises the image of thousands of people being summarily taken from their homes and jobs and deported.

Marc Cooper’s blog has a good political analysis, which also points to an earlier Washington Post op-ed by Tamar Jacoby detailing why so-called “guest worker” programs ultimately will not work.

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2 Responses to The Next Civil Rights Movement is Here

  1. E. says:

    Democracy Now! devoted most of today’s show to the protests, focusing especially on a massive wave of student protests in LA. They estimate that 8,000 students from schools in the LA Unified district walked out yesterday, many of them for the second day in a row. More student walkouts are being planned for Friday, Cezar Chavez’s birthday. The high level of youth participation is an especially heartening aspect of this massive wave of protests.

    No wonder kids are invested, though. For many latino families the specter of deportment threatens to separate immigrant parents from their US-born kids. Once again, mainstream American political rhetoric about the importance of family is shown to be hollow at the core.

  2. Toby Higbie says:

    Thanks for the comment E! The student protests are impressive. Also of interest is the fact that a coalition of usually conservative Latino evangelical Christrians played a big role in the protest, and even convinced a national evangelical organization to come out in favor of immigrant rights. A looming split in the Republican coalition, perhaps?

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