Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The effect of immigration rallies

Something has been nagging me the past few days, as I’ve been reading about the immigration marches. Marc Cooper writes that last year the rallies “shook the political establishment.” An Op-Ed in the LA Times says they represented “a kick to the political cojones.” At yesterday’s rallies there were such signs as “The Sleeping Giant Woke Up Forever.” There are many such examples.

I am sympathetic to many of their demands, but as I read about how monumental the rallies were, it just seemed so much like wishful thinking. In the past year, nothing has been shaken up, or the shaking has been negative, as with the Hazleton case and other local efforts targeting undocumented immigrants. The most notable change was that the main restrictionist voices were Republican, and they lost their congressional majorities. That result, however, had almost nothing to do with immigration at all.

The organizing itself, however, is positive. At the very least, it could constitute a nascent political movement, but currently it does not seem coherent enough to influence policy very much. There’s a good Op-Ed in the Chicago Sun-Times about how the movement lacks a leader, has failed to build on momentum, shows disagreement on tactics, and can’t agree on how to approach legislation like STRIVE. The rallies are certainly positive, but I don’t think they are affecting much yet. I’d like to see studies about the ways in which policy makers changed their views as a result of them.


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