Finally the executive order to stop the deportation of undocumented students has arrived.
Using a strategy centered on publicly pressuring President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, the independent and unafraid “Dreamers” took their demands to Democratic campaign headquarters across the country. Using civil disobedience tactics, they demanded that the president issue an executive order to stop the deportation of undocumented students.
It was the right political button and bingo, the president responded. And now, it appears that an estimated 800,00 to 1.4 million youth can breathe easier and feel the security of not having the ICE elephant in the room 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
Approximately 16 months ago, when Obama’s unofficial 2012 presidential campaign began to court the increasingly important Latino voting bloc, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, speaking at East Los Angeles College, unequivocally laid out her boss’ and the Democratic party’s position for all to hear: “The administration cannot issue an executive order because the Republicans will use it to rile up the right wing troops in November 2012,” reported La Opinion.
With only four months until the November General Election, which will determine if Obama stays in the White House and whether Democrats can retake the majority in the House of Representatives, it’s obvious that new political conditions have given way to changes in policy. Feeling pressure from the right, the president has started to address some longtime “sensitive” issues, like gay marriage, and now, knowing he need the Latino vote, immigration policy.
This wonderful victory achieved by a new generation of activists, should stand as a lesson to the old guard and leadership of the immigrant rights movement: “Ya no se hagan pendejos-Stop making fools of yourselves.”
Our point is not to embarrass anyone, but to let the public know that many in leadership roles are clueless about how to achieve the comprehensive immigration reform that will empower millions of undocumented immigrants and their families.
Since early 2011, most gave up on efforts to unify and motivate the movement to produce real massive political pressure.
Those of us who have continued to push the national May Day marches want to clarify, in the interest of unity, that we have always believed success on May 1st unequivocally means, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands on the streets of downtown LA and cities throughout the country. Then, and only then, will this social movement create a significant political groundswell of people willing to work to defeat of the ultra conservative Republican bloc.
Setting aside for the moment the recent Dreamer victory, it has now been 49 days since the divided 2012 May Day marches in LA. Since then we observed two related but important developments on immigration. One was the aggressive policy change that increased the number of ICE teams involved in the “search for criminal immigrants” nationally. It was billed as a move to feed the conservative, but independent voting bloc. But for Latinos, it was an openly offensive and repressive move, for it is a well known fact that the majority of those caught in the violent early morning ICE raids on homes, when children, women and the elderly are present and asleep, are not criminals. As far as we can tell, this was the only response from the Obama administration to whatever political pressure ensued from the May 1st mobilizations on the administration.
The second political development came within a week of the May 1st demonstrations, this time from Dreamer activists. It was the beginning of the campaign to target and occupy Democratic Party campaign offices nationally, with one objective, to wrest from the White House a presidential decree that would protect 1.4 million students from the insidious and inhumane policies of deportation. The announcement was made simultaneously through media events and protests in close to twenty cities in the US.
On June 15, the administration announced a change of policy and the president, speaking at a White House press conference, proclaimed, “it is the right thing to do.”
The social movement, the community and the media were all taken by surprise, and while the sensational victory is the product of the social movement as a whole, this victory belongs to the youth.
The Dreamers did not move millions of people to blockade the Democrats or Republicans, that skill still belongs to more experienced activists, but with just four months until the election, their actions can serve as an catapult to achieving immigration reform as a whole, a and how to respond to the soon to be announced Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s SB 1070.
However, success depends on putting aside political and organizational interests and personal egos, as well as what we call bipolar political conduct.
Javier Rodriguez is a journalist and a media and political strategist. A long time activist, he was the initiators and organizers of the massive immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, Bajolamiradejavier@yahoo.com. Isabel Rodriguez is a worker’s compensation attorney: email@example.com. Antonio Rodriguez is a civil rights, anti-police brutality, Antoniohr@rodriguezlaw.com. The three siblings are long time political activists, and have played a prominent role in organizing s street immigration movements of 1984 and 2006.