Two Fronts, One Cause: Next Steps in Immigration Reform

As talk of  immigration reform dominated the new Congress, editor 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.

The interview with Medina was posted here on Feb.14, 2014. See below.  Both interviews will appear in the spring issue of Democratic Left.                                                             

Alma Lopez, an activist in Sacramento, was a co-presenter with Campbell at an immigration workshop at the DSA national convention, held in Oakland in October 2013. Here, Campbell talks to her about young people and immigrant activism.


Alma.jpgDC:
 What do you think has been the effect of immigrant rights activism on young people?

AL: Students and young people have been playing a major role, along with immigrant community members. In Sacramento, our group has been working with people in northern and southern California who have been arrested in protests against ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and deportations

The civil disobedience and the arrests have played a vital role in telling the community and the general public how important it is to keep families together and to come up with a policy that is fair and just for everybody.

DC: How has your own viewpoint developed as you participated in the immigrants’ rights movement?

AL: I have seen that there are many groups with different perspectives. I've had to rethink my position on how to advocate for people and I’ve concluded that educating and empowering people is the best way, rather than me trying to tell people what should be the best position.

These families have to be the ones making the decisions about goals, strategies, and tactics.  Once you include the people who are being affected, then the legislators will have to reconsider what they are proposing, and develop something that is much better, something that is fair for the people already here.

We in Sacramento are planning a couple of acts of civil disobedience (CD) in the near future to tell the public how very important this issue of immigration is. I think that CD is a powerful way to educate the people.  If we do it properly, we can frame the message in such a way that even the folks who are anti-immigrant understand.

DC: Some advocates, such as the folks in the Fast for Families in Washington, made the point that they are talking with very broad segments of the population, they are building the broadest possible coalition.

AL: We are also doing both. We are focusing on educating the Latino community about policy effects and their rights and we are reaching out to the broader community. We are developing informational packets, including one on the positive impact of immigrants here in our state.

Once society has a really good understanding of the immigration system,  they will understand  the importance of passing an inclusive and fairer immigration reform so that everyone is  respected as a human being.

Once you get that movement going, including the people who are being effected, then the legislators will have to reconsider what they are proposing, to develop something that is much better, something that is fair for the people already here.

I think that education and empowering the people is the best thing rather than I myself trying to tell people what should be the best position. 

We here in Sacramento are planning a couple of acts of civil disobedience in the near future to tell the public how very important this issue of immigration is.  I think that CD is a powerful way to educate the people.  You are risking your freedom.  I think that if you do CD properly, in such a way that it makes sense, then we can frame the message in such a way that even the folks who are anti-immigrant understand, then I think it will have a very, very powerful impact.

Once everyone sees undocumented immigrants as people, as our neighbors, they will see that they are just doing what everyone else would do: trying to feed their families and provide for a better life. There needs to be a focus on what is forcing people to migrate versus the symptoms of immigration.  Once this happens, people will see immigrants as human beings, not criminals.

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. To stay up to date with immigration reform, check the Democratic Left blog at dsausa.org

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

DSA Queer Socialists Conference Call

May 25, 2017
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Join DSA's Queer Socialists Working Group to discuss possible activities for the group and its proposed structure. 9 pm ET/8 pm CT/7 pm MT/6 pm PT.

 

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
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If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
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Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
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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.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
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Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

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Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
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Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
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Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.