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Crockpot: Immigration Edition

Statue of Liberty FogLast Saturday, Hispanic Heritage Month officially began. For 25 years, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and a host of other museums and groups have celebrated Hispanic and Latino contributions to American history and culture. But this year’s celebrations are especially bittersweet, says Jose Miguel Leyva in the Progressive, when we consider the realities immigrants continue to face. After years of soaring rhetoric and patient activism, Latinos are “still being taken for granted by politicians of both parties.” The Obama administration in particular, despite inclusive language and a recent much-touted executive order, has pursued some of the most draconian immigration policies in decades, Leyva says. Most young immigrants lacking papers will be ineligible for “deferred action,” as well as Obamacare. “Latinos deserve substantive actions,” says Leyva, “not the hollow promises of politicians trying to curry favor with us at election time.”

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Want to protect voting rights? There’s an app for that, says Maegan E. Ortiz in Colorlines. Pennsylvania’s voter ID law might well be toast, but laws in other states could still disenfranchise millions of voters. That’s why minority communities across the country are using social media to register, inform, and support as many voters as possible between now and November, says Ortiz. Campaigns like Native Vote use Facebook and webinars to boost Native Americans’ typically low turnout, while Nuestra Elección! aims to target eligible Spanish-speakers and curb voter suppression.

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Despite the unprecedented drop in immigration from Mexico since 2000, deportations have reached an all-time high. A new report from the Department Homeland Security shows that last year, the government deported nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants, says Common Dreams. According to ICE records, that number has been growing quickly in recent years, up from 291,000 in 2007. 

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Video: author Junot Diaz on immigrant rights and why Americans are still in a state of denial about the contributions of undocumented immigrants. “We should be able to recognize as a community the people who do the heavy lifting, and stop afflicting them,” Diaz says. “Our contributions have to be honored.”

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On May Day 2006, millions of undocumented protesters breathed new life into an old, largely forgotten holiday. That day, the Day Without Immigrants, the streets of dozens of U.S. cities erupted with marches and actions as immigrants called for humane laws and treatment and raised awareness of their importance to American society. The 2006 actions, which marked a turning point in the immigrant rights movement, also signaled a new chapter in labor history. Since then, May Day has begun to approach its historical significance among American workers, from the 2008 West Coast port shutdown to this year’s mass demonstrations in support of Occupy and workers’ rights. Not to mention the over one million immigrant rights activists who took to the streets on May Day 2010.

Immigrants and workers are natural allies, say Ana Avendaño and Charlie Fanning in Dissent, and they’re now coming together in a big way. While some of the most high profile immigration activism in recent years has centered on the DREAM Act, many activists are now embracing a broader set of goals, and using organized labor to make them a reality. From the CLEAN Carwash Campaign in Los Angeles to No Papers No Fear, immigration activists are increasingly seeing workplaces as battlegrounds and unions as natural partners. What’s more, these alliances have expanded their scope to questions of community organizing and social justice, and in some ways resemble a burgeoning social movement, say Avendaño and Fanning. “This kind of grassroots mobilization holds much promise for those who dream of a more democratic future,” they say.

Image by Ludovic Bertron, licensed under Creative Commons.