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May 02, 2006

Watching the Future Walk By

Yesterday's march and rally for immigrant rights in Seattle was touching to watch and ease into.  I got off the bus just as the march was coming into the downtown area and turning toward the Federal Building.  Because I was meeting Noemie (of Washblog), I walked the opposite direction for 10 blocks or so before we caught up with each other and walked together down to the rally area at the Federal Building.

Watching a protest march is quite different from being in the midst of it.  When I was part of the anti-war protests in 2002 and early 03 (or way back in the late 60's), I remember the feeling of moving along with the crowd, becoming a part of an ever-changing organism.  The different groups and individuals go at different paces, jostling and bantering as one or the other moves on.  Stepping out of that flow and watching from the sidewalk or walking against the grain provides an entirely different perspective. 

Yesterday was a watching day. What a sight to see all these people who care enough about their beliefs to walk their talk. It brought tears to my eyes to see a new group of people who felt like who they are and what they want matters.  There were so many young folks in the crowd and masses of babies in arms and in strollers, with toddlers walking along with their parents.  NPR said this morning that 70,000 students in LA had skipped school to march.  I believe it.  There were so many young people walking along, in threes and fours, moving faster than the march as a whole, as teenagers are wont to do. 

Many signs in the crowd reminded us that we are an immigrant nation and Latinos are our newest immigrants. I'd guess this crowd was at least 90% Latino.  I wonder what the sense of seeing their impact on the nation will do for these, our newest immigrants, whether they will continue to grow in strength, whether they will be joined by other immigrants from other continents, or by more supporters whose ancestors went through the jolt of coming here decades ago.  As far as I could tell, the only organized non-Latino support for the marchers yesterday came from numerous labor organizations - that and the lone Buddhist Peace Fellowship guy.   

I expect that the force of these demonstrations will ebb if the Sensenbrenner House Bill does not pass in the Senate.  HB 4437, which the House passed in December, is what has brought both undocumented workers and documented Latinos out in mass.  The bill would change the status of the countries 10-12 million undocumented immigrants from being legal visitors with temporary status problems to that of aggravated felons and would subject them to prosecution and immediate deportation.  The bill would also make anyone who aids them, from teachers to health care providers to landlords to employers subject to prosecution. 

Preventing this bill from passing and providing a lawful, orderly process for undocumented workers to become US citizens is the core of what this protest is about.  Being face to face with thousands of people marching for the opportunity to stay in the US to make their lives better for themselves and their children is pretty compelling and shifts me over to the column that suggests we do just that.

A DailyKos diarist from Seattle has photos and a brief post.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 2, 2006 at 08:47 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

The original H.R. 4437 will never pass the Senate, and is in fact part of a partisan wrangle between the Republicans and Democrats, with the Republicans issuing a Spanish-language press release claiming that the Democrats want to make illegal immigration a felony, but the Republicans don't, and a dueling Harry Reid press release pointing out that the Republicans voted for the felony provision in another vote. It's all dueling votes; as I said at the time, "the major political parties can turn to this vote and that vote and this statement and that statement, and if you get a lot of votes and a lot of statements, you can claim just about anything."

At this point, I don't see any political action that will dampen the third group that I mentioned in response to your earlier post. Regardless of what happens or doesn't happen with McCain/Kennedy or H.R. 4437 or some future bill, there is a large group that opposes H.R. 4437 and guest worker programs and any restrictions or penalties on immigration into the U.S. A.N.S.W.E.R., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and similar organizations are not going to be deterred by Congressional politic-playing - they have a goal.

Posted by: Ontario Emperor | May 5, 2006 2:49:11 PM

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