NYT Opinion: Migrants’ Freedom Ride

Published July 28, 2012:

On Sunday night or early Monday, about three dozen people are planning to set out on a six-week bus voyage through the dark terrain of American immigration politics. Their journey is to begin, fittingly, in the desert in Arizona, national capital of anti-immigrant laws and oppressive policing. It will wind through other states where laws and failed policies force immigrants to toil outside the law — New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee — and end in North Carolina at the Democratic National Convention.

There the riders plan to deliver a defiant message to a president who is hoping to return to office on a wave of Latino support that they believe he has not earned.

There is something very different about this particular protest. Many of those planning to ride the bus are undocumented and — for the first time — are not afraid to say so. Immigrants who dread arrest and deportation usually seek anonymity. These riders, weary of life in the shadows and frustrated by the lack of progress toward reform, will be telling federal authorities and the local police: Here are our names. This is our plan. If you want us, come get us.

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WRAL.com: Man on hunger strike for illegal immigrants

Dreamers arrested for disrupting a legislative hearing about immigration in North Carolina.  Uriel Alberto is still in jail:

Raleigh, N.C. — A Winston-Salem man on a hunger strike at the Wake County jail and facing deportation says that he wants to bring attention to U.S. immigration laws and how they are affecting immigrants who have been raised in America yet cannot obtain citizenship as adults.

“I had no control over whether or not I wanted to come to this country, but I’m here, and I’m a contributing member of society,” 24-year-old Uriel Alberto, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said Monday.

Alberto began fasting 10 days ago – two days after he and two other people with the advocacy groups El Cambio and N.C. Dream Team – were charged Feb. 29 with misdemeanor disorderly conduct after they interrupted a legislative committee meeting on immigration laws.

“The last two days have been extremely difficult to stay with it mentally,” he said. “I’m getting through it.”

Already having lost 20 pounds, he plans to fast another 10 days in an effort to empower others to speak out for the way, he says, illegal immigrants have to live under the radar and often fear being deported.

“We can’t live in the shadows, because if we do, then the same things that have happened (legislation regarding illegal immigrants) in Alabama and in Arizona are going to happen here,” Alberto said.  Read more …

The Commercial Appeal: Illegal immigrants, supporters to re-create 1966 march

Daniel Connolly writes about the increasing links between the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the Immigrants Rights Movement in the South:

In 1966, James Meredith set out on a protest walk from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., calling it the “March Against Fear.”

At the time, such an act by a black man could provoke violence. Deadly rioting had erupted when Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1962, and he would survive a shooting shortly after he began the walk.

This year, a young woman from El Salvador named Ingrid Cruz sought out an aging Meredith in Jackson. Would he endorse the concept of a Walk Against Fear, this time focused on immigration matters?

He would. An online video shows a gray-bearded Meredith in an Ole Miss baseball cap talking with Cruz. In a halting voice, he says he supports her effort. “And we’re gonna do all we can to make it a big success,” he said.

Meredith is expected to appear at the National Civil Rights Museum today as Cruz and other members of a small group make speeches before setting off on a weeks-long journey down U.S. 51 to protest what they call anti-immigrant racism. They’re scheduled to arrive April 7 in Jackson.

Cruz is a 25-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Jackson, but two other young men making the march, Memphis residents Patricio Gonzalez and Jose Salazar, acknowledge that they’re living in the country without legal permission. Read more …

SouthCoastToday.com: Blue-collar Americans and blue-collar immigrants caught in same trap

Jack Spillane speaks the truth on this fine Sunday, March 11, 2012:

Reina Rivas stood in the cold outside the former Michael Bianco factory Friday night and talked determinedly to about 100 people about what it was like to be jailed for being an illegal immigrant.

The 34-year-old Rivas, a one-time teacher in Guatemala, on the day of the Bianco raid, was working at the South End factory that used to make canvas bags for military gear used by American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rivas was one of the 361 women and men (mostly women) who were swept up in the now-infamous ICE raid that exposed a raw nerve in the city of New Bedford five years ago this week. She was held at the Barnstable House of Correction after being removed from the Bianco factory.

Many of the women who worked as seamstresses in the Bianco sweatshop were parents, and an estimated 112 children, including some who were nursing, were separated from their mothers after the raid.

But the Bianco raid was just as unnerving to many working-class city residents, with talk radio and protests erupting in anger at the immigrants in the wake of the roundup.

Rivas spoke in Spanish to the gathering, comprising young, Central American families and both Latino and American activists. “She thanked God for healing hearts and memories, and asked that the government policies be more just and respectful of human dignity,” said Father Rich Wilson, translating after Rivas had finished speaking.  Read more …

San Antonio Express News: ‘USA’ chant reflects deep social woes

This is one of those moments when you can see the way national origin and class work out to make a hierarchy of belonging to “America.”  This is a disturbing story about obnoxious high school kids and it also exposes some truths that no one likes to talk about.  Victor Landa says it better below:

When do chants of USA! USA! become a racist rant? It sounds, at first hearing, like an Orwellian proposition. But take that proposition to one of the most American of venues, the high school basketball gym, and that seeming double-speak becomes an ethnic affront; it’s all in the intent.

That’s exactly what happened last week during an important regional basketball match between San Antonio’s Alamo Heights and Edison High Schools. The Alamo Heights Mules defeated the Edison Golden Bears, and with that defeat the Mules advanced in regional tournament competition. But in their post-victory celebration a group of Mules partisans chanted USA! USA! This is the nuance that turned a patriotic chant into a perceived ethnic/cultural slur: both the Mules and the Golden Bears are American High School teams. The USA! chant was entirely out of place, it was not an international competition — unless you dig further into preconceptions.

Alamo Heights is a mostly nonminority, affluent high school. Edison is predominantly Latino, lower- to working-class campus. Within that context the chant has a different implication. It is, at best, demeaning. At worst, it’s insulting. The implied intent is that the victors are American, and defeated are not. The implication goes further still: if the members of the Golden Bears squad are not American, as the chant implies, then what are they?  Read more …