The Stage of Civil Disobedience
All around the country day laborers and largely immigrant youth are challenging the authorities and “business as usual.” Whether chaining themselves to the undercarriages of deportation buses or to the White House fences, fasting, praying publicly, or protesting, they are demonstrating their disapproval of the White House’s and Congress’ inability to advance immigration reform. Where “business as usual” means the deportation of 1100 people per day, more than any Republican ever did, they reject the Democratic line that Republicans alone are to blame for the delay. They insist that President Obama could halt deportations today and force the recalcitrant House Republicans to negotiate by doing so.
When the usual channels of redress are closed, people have always looked for other means, including their human right to protest. Today, extreme times are calling for extreme measures to call attention to the plight of separated families. The Day Laborers and the youth have been criticized for breaking ranks with the established leaders and also for calling President Obama “Deporter in Chief.” Up to 5 million immigrants may be disqualified even with the Senate proposal that was passed. Whatever “compromise” bill Democrats and Republicans might end up agreeing upon, will almost certainly be even worse. Meanwhile, the deportations of immigrants who would likely qualify for amnesty continue unabated.
The truth is Day Laborers and the youthful protesters for immigration reform should take heart. First of all, the vast majority of Americans want to see an amnesty plan enacted. Second, the vast majority of Americans are also under attack, although for other reasons. And many U.S. born citizens are also joining in with Civil disobedience actions. A prime example is the Moral Monday protests in North Carolina where people of all backgrounds are being arrested for protesting the elimination of voting rights for many poor, food stamps, and un-employment benefits extensions, among other things.
In truth, we are hearing the opening salvos of a fight for political independence for all working people. The Day Laborers and the youth, we are proud to say, are at the forefront.