My previous post on the current immigrant insurgency, on the new civil rights movement, was written from a perspective formed by being in the streets and enjoying the wonderful energy of proud people rising up for dignity and justice. It is through such experiences that I have learned what I little know about the possibility of the beloved human community.
But of course, most people weren't there in the streets and might not want to be there. What might the immigrant uprising mean to them?
With the beginning of the Cold War, the McCarran Walter Act of 1952 added anti-communist provisions to the geographical exclusions; no godless revolutionaries were to be allowed. In 1965 the U.S. partially abolished the national origin quotas that had aimed to keep the country white and also began to facilitate family reunification (the opportunity for immigrants to bring close family members to join them.) This legal change particularly enabled Asian immigration. By 1986, the country had attracted 3 million undocumented migrants mostly from south of the border. A new law called for sanctions on employers who hired them but also offered amnesty to those already here.
The employer sanctions were not enforced; employers kept on hiring and migrants kept on coming. And so today, some U.S. citizens, some of those of us already here, including a minority of violent racists, demand a wall to close off the Mexican border and criminalization of undocumented persons already here. These provisions are embodied in Congressman Sensenbrenner's HR4437. This current panic sparked the current immigrant movement.
Many African Americans simply cannot identify with the immigrant narrative being promoted by the new movement. They didn't come here to better themselves and succeed through hard work. Their ancestors were dragged here in chains against their will and the fruit of their hard labor has been appropriated by generations of whites.
Banks reminds his readers that despite still being burdened by the U.S. racial hierarchy, majorities of African Americans have historically supported the justice struggles of other groups. The Rev. Jesse Jackson writes to encourage such support. He stresses historical kinship, urging solidarity among potential allies.
Four Northern Californian civil rights veterans, María Blanco, Eva Paterson, Hector Preciado and Van Jones, have attempted to name explicitly the source of much unease between communities of color:
Now there's an outsider perspective on it all. Si se puede! Because we must.