Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Immigrants organize amid excitement and fear

Members of the organization Mujeres Unidas y Activas listen to speakers.

Excitement, tinged with fear, is growing in immigrant communities as people prepare for the boycott, general strike, and rallies that have been called for Monday, May 1 to protest any "immigration reform" that criminalizes the undocumented. San Francisco Bay Area immigrant groups held a press conference in Oakland's Fruitvale Village today to counteract rumors that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents had been patrolling the neighborhoods in white vans, probably aiming to intimidate people planning to join the protests.

Mariana Bustamante of the ACLU-Immigrant Rights Project explained to the crowd in Spanish and English what what rights people have if stopped by the migra. She emphasized especially that the ACLU has materials about what schools are legally allowed to do if students walk out to protest.

But the following speakers emphasized that, in truth, immigrants would not be protected by the law, but by the commitment and audacity of their political movement.

Maria Reyes of Mujeres Unidas y Activas challenged the crowd colorfully to find their courage: drawing on Revelations 3:16, she reminded them that God "spits out" the lukewarm. According to Reyes, immigrants must bravely show their numbers and power through the strike and rallies next Monday.

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