Beyond May Day, Frustrated Immigrant Movement Forges Ahead
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The local and state work – which is also important to help transform the public thinking about immigration – must also continue, and will strengthen local organizing work, build greater capacity and bring on important allies.... We’re excited about the possibilities of greater work with our “traditional” allies with labor and the faith communities, but also with the women’s community, African-Americans, health care providers, LGBT rights movement and more.
If there’s one strength that the immigrant rights movement can draw from Occupy, it’s the growing realization that the struggles for civil rights, economic justice, fair labor policies and a strong social safety net are all interlocked--and that the movements working toward these aims must be accessible to all communities. Occupy might provide a platform to tackle cross-cutting issues of human rights, labor rights, globalization, and the expanding police state.
Critics have criticized Occupy as too shapeless to bring about substantive change, but the battle for immigrants’ rights could be an opportunity to prove them wrong. May Day 2012 didn’t have a concrete agenda but it opened a forum for voices that are typically silenced and ignored. And while racist hostility pervades the mainstream political arena, Occupy may be one of the only spaces left for immigrants to speak up without fear.
Michelle Chen is a contributing editor at In These Times. She is a regular contributor to the labor rights blog Working In These Times, Colorlines.com, and Pacifica’s WBAI. Her work has also appeared in Alternet, Ms. Magazine, Newsday, and her old zine, cain. Follow her on Twitter at @meeshellchen or reach her at michellechen @ inthesetimes.com.