query: Immigrant/Hispanic organizing

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Wed May 3 18:20:45 CDT 2006

[ed:  thanks to Ben, Sue, Lara, and Dan for the discussion.]

From: Benjamin Shepard <benshepard at mindspring.com>

i think its amazing. there are many of the ingredients which put things
in the mix, a crisis, a series of networks, a willingness
to speak out, an ongoing link between working conditions, and cross
border transnational organizing issues, and a well
linked group of people unwilling, pardon my french, to be fucked with. 
i see many of these links as the groups which mobilzed after prop. 187
in california in 1994.  people don't like to be called criminals.  they
also need to work and when they are told that makes them illegal, that
inspires a backlash...  but these are also the rumblings of a post 9/11
organizing wave.  much of this kind of work was happenning before 9/11. 
the global justice movement was rolling, the harvard living wage issue
was gaining momentum, and community labor coalitions were gaining
strength, ... we lost a lot of momentum after 9/11.  but the ciw workers
have been on a roll in the last couple of years winning significant
concessions, etc...
so things are kindov rolling now. and this wave of direct action is
real.  think thats part of it.  the direct action with big numbers.  yet
signs of backlash are always there.  in today's times trent lott of ms
said he was thinking about deporting groups waving mexican flags at one
of the rallies... so thats a little odd too... history will tell..


From: Common Counsel <ccounsel at igc.org>

I was at the march yesterday in Oakland, California, and it was the
biggest march I've ever seen here in the East Bay -- because people
usually go to marches in San Francisco across the Bay.  But yesterday in
the Bay Area, there were marches in San Jose (the biggest!), San
Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and lots of other places, too.  It's
absolutely incredible.  Almost everybody was dressed in white, and I'd
say 99% people of color.

I'm 44 and I've been to hundreds of marches, protests, and actions, but
I've never felt the sheer immensity of being in a MOVEMENT before this. 
Yesterday was the biggest mobilization across the country since the
Vietnam War days.  It's a movement, people.  I urge all of you on this
list to go out to participate in these marches if you want to feel what
it's like, again, or for the first time.

In Solidarity,
Sue Hutchinson
Senior Program Officer
Common Counsel Foundation


From: lrusch at umich.edu


I've been working with and studying MOSES, a Gamaliel affiliate in
Detroit. Gamaliel has had an active Civil Rights for Immigrants
campaign for several years.  I think the fear of exposure through
political action has been a huge issue, but one that organizers have
been taking on directly through power of example.  They have encouraged
undocumented lay people to take public leadership positions and speak
out. I am sure that has encouraged others to do the same. At community
meetings the lay leaders often speak directly about their struggles and
fears and why they chose to get involved politically. It is powerful to
hear the testimonies and I think many long term organizing efforts have
been paying off this Spring.

I'm not sure how to assess the impact of community organizing as
compared to other factors but the presence of numbers alone doesn't
necessarily lead to collective action.

Detroit has a growing Latino community but nothing compared to LA or
NY, yet there has been significant social action here. For example last
year leaders from St. Anne's parish prevented the enormous bridge to
Canada from expanding into their neighborhood, with its trucks, noise,

I think the sense of crises in response to legislation reveals the
organizing work, but that work won't end once there is a guest worker
program (or isn't!).  MOSES and MI*VOICE in Michigan have been working
for several years on gaining in-state college tuition for immigrants
who have attended four years of high school here. There have been set
backs but they are still working towards that goal.

I'm interested in other's thoughts on how the movement came together in
March, and what variety of organizing groups coordinated for the

Lara Rusch
Political Science Candidate
University of Michigan
lrusch at umich.edu


From: "tutormentor1 at earthlink.net" <tutormentor1 at earthlink.net>

I think this is a great topic to discuss. In particular, I'd like to learn
how social networking and the Internet  has been used to bring this
community together so quickly.  Last night I attended a lecture at
Northwestern University by Noshir S. Contractor

The leacture talked about how cyberinfrastructure enables individuals to
connect with one another, as well as with relevant datasets, documents,
visual-analytic tools, etc, and how this affects communities.

I was interested because of my own efforts to mobilize a network of support
for volunteer based tutor/mentor programs
(http://www.tutormentorconnection.org) that help kids move out of poverty
and into careers. However, I feel that this discussion would be interested,
because understanding how the Internet may have been used to rapidly build
the immigrant movement over the past few months, can lead to this
application in other social issue areas, and can lead to an understanding
of how such movements might better be sustained for a period of years, or
until the problem is resolved to the satisfaction of enough of those who
are contributing time and talent and engergy and dollars to this

I'll look forward to learning what others have to contribute to this

Dan Bassill
Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron
Chicago, Il. 60622
> I find it interesting, given the intensity of immigrant/Hispanic 
> organizing going on the last couple of months, that we haven't really 
> talked about it on COMM-ORG.  I want to see if we might correct that 
> omission.  Because I am really quite amazed.  I was in California two 
> months ago, and among my conversations was one with people who were 
> supporting a day labor center and organizing locally against the 
> Sensenbrenner bill.  While they were hopeful, I didn't get the sense 
> they were expecting the enormous impact we have seen in the last 
> couple of months.
> One of the things that amazes me the most is the willingness of 
> undocumented people to participate in the political process.  I 
> remember 15 years ago, when I was working on an edited collection 
> about the process that we now call community-based research.  One of 
> the papers described the challenges of trying to do "participatory 
> research" with undocumented immigrants, who feared any public 
> exposure.  Something has clearly changed in the intervening years, or 
> at least that is how it seems to me.
> So I invite the discussion.  Have things changed?  If so, what has 
> changed?  Has the growing emphasis on immigrant organizing had an 
> impact?  Have pure demographics made immigrant organizing inevitable?  
> Is this just a crisis moment and as soon as the crisis passes the 
> organizing will too?  And what are we learning about what works and 
> what doesn't?
> Randy Stoecker,
> moderator/editor, COMM-ORG
> rstoecker at wisc.edu
> _______________________________________________

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