Eliseo Medina on Immigration Reform and Activism

Next Steps in Immigration Reform

As talk of  immigration reform dominated the new Congress, Duane Campbell conducted separate interviews with DSA Honorary Chair Eliseo Medina (former secretary treasurer of SEIU and former Executive Board member of the United Farm Workers) and immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez.

 From November 12 until December 2, 2013, Medina and hundreds more participated in a Fast for Families, setting up tents on the Washington Mall to engage the nation and Congress in issues of immigration reform. Politicians, union leaders,  community activists, and faith leaders, from Jim Wallace of Sojourners to Barack Obama, stopped by to talk, listen, and provide support. Medina fasted for twenty-two days, taking only water. 

Here, Medina explains the need for broad coalitions and public education.--Ed.eliseo3.jpg

 

DC:  What did the Fast for Families accomplish?

EM: It was one of the most exciting transformative,  and spiritual events I have participated in many, many years.  We had a microcosm of America: labor leaders, church leaders, students, immigrants, local and community leaders, men and women, people of faith and of all races and ethnic groups.  This diverse group came together sharing one central value: that in America we believe in treating people fairly, in rewarding hard work, and in respecting human and workers’ rights.

Our goal was to reach out and explain to America the moral crisis facing this country, because people are dying every day on the border and thousands of families are being broken up by our current immigration policies. We need the American people express their voices. And second, we wanted to reach out to members of Congress, to touch their hearts, to tell them we need to fix this problem.

The fast and the support demonstrations put immigration reform back on the national agenda.

DC:  What is your sense now of where immigration reform is going in the Congress?

EM:  Prior to the fast we had a stalemate in Congress.  But now the discussion is not if we will have immigration reform, but when will we have reform and what will it look like. I am very hopeful.

DC: What can progressives and DSA activists do to help?

EM:  This is a critical issue for progressive America.  Are we going to have eleven million people here without workers’ rights and human rights [a situation that] undermines the rights of us all? Congress has to do what it was elected to do: to fix problems.

I would say to fellow DSAers, “We have to understand that this is not only a Latino issue.  This is the civil rights movement of our times. This is your chance to get involved.  The immigration fight is everybody’s fight. The civil rights movement [of the fifties and sixties] created a whole new dynamic in this country, and so can this. This is our moment. This is the time to get engaged."

Our focus now will be a congressional tour from the end of February until the end of April.  We need you to help with the bus tour to congressional districts and to organize community meetings. Go to the web page Fast4Families.org for talking points and for  how and where to help.

The interview with Alma Lopez will appear on a future  date.  Both will appear in the Spring edition of Democratic Left.

Duane Campbell is a professor emeritus of bilingual multicultural education at California State University Sacramento, a union activist, and chair of Sacramento DSA.  He has worked on immigration reform issues for more than thirty years.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership.

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

April 24, 2017
· 46 rsvps

DSA is in the process of forming a Queer Socialists Working Group. This call will cover a discussion of possible activities for the group, its proposed structure, assigning tasks, and reports on the revision of DSA's LGBT statement and on possible political education activities. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

Introduction to Socialist Feminism Call

April 30, 2017
· 55 rsvps

Join Philadelphia DSA veteran activist Michele Rossi to explore “socialist feminism.” How does it differ from other forms of feminism? How and when did it develop? What does it mean for our activism? 4-5:30pm ET, 3-4:30pm CT, 2-3:30pm MT, 1-2:30pm PT.

DSA Webinar: Talking About Socialism

May 02, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Practice talking about socialism in plain language. Create your own short rap. Prepare for those conversations about socialism that happen when you table in public.

Join us for our latest organizing training for democratic socialist activists: DSA’s (Virtual) Little Red Schoolhouse.

This training is at 9:00pm Eastern, 8:00pm Central, 7:00pm Mountain, 6:00pm Pacific, 5:00pm Alaska, and 3:00pm Hawaii Time. Please RSVP.

Instructor:

Steve Max, DSA Vice Chair and one of the founders of the legendary community organizing school, The Midwest Academy

In Talking About Socialism you will learn to:

  • Have a quick response ready to go next time someone asks you about democratic socialism.
  • Create your own elevator pitch about democratic socialism and DSA.
  • Use your personal experience and story to explain democratic socialism.
  • Think through the most important ideas you want to convey about democratic socialism.
  • Have a concise explanation of what DSA does, for your next DSA table, event or coalition meeting.

Training Details

  • This workshop is for those who have already had an introduction to democratic socialism, whether from DSA's webinar or from other sources.
  • If you have a computer with microphone, speakers and good internet access, you can join via internet for free.
  • If you have questions, contact Theresa Alt <talt@igc.org> 607-280-7649.
  • If you have very technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt <schmittaj@gmail.com> 608-335-6568.
  • Participation requires that you register at least 45 hours in advance, by midnight Sunday.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

May 06, 2017
· 52 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  2 pm ET; 1 pm CT; 12 pm MT; 11 am PT.  

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 18 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.