Immigration Rallies Lack National Leader; Differ from Civil Rights Movement

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 18, 2006 | Go to article overview

Immigration Rallies Lack National Leader; Differ from Civil Rights Movement


Byline: Keyonna Summers, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The organizers of last week's wave of nationwide pro-immigration rallies yesterday drew comparisons to the black civil rights movement but said they are missing the leadership and organization of the 1960s movement.

"We lack a national leader and national structure," said Jaime Contreras, president of the National Capital Immigrant Coalition (NCIC), an umbrella organization for 45 D.C.-area immigrant-advocacy groups that coordinated rallies in more than 140 cities. "Right now you have a lot of strong coalitions with a lot of different ideas of how to create this movement."

The NCIC on Friday withdrew support from "The Great American Boycott," a planned nationwide May 1 stoppage of work, retail and transportation, saying "it's not the right time" to take action until the U.S. Senate acts on pending immigration-reform legislation.

"We believe that it's a little premature," Mr. Contreras said of the boycott, also dubbed "a day without an immigrant." The May 1 action is being organized by Latino Movement USA and the Act Now to Stop War & End Racism Coalition, and is widely supported by groups in California. "We have accomplished doing so much in a positive way, [but] we're keeping [the boycott] as an option."

D.C. leaders yesterday said they will instead hold evening gatherings in the District, Northern Virginia, Langley Park and Baltimore on May 1 to encourage voter registration and petition- and letter-writing campaigns.

However, recent comparisons of the immigrant movement to the black civil rights movement and questions about enlisting support from celebrities split pro-immigration leaders yesterday.

Juan Carlos Ruiz, general director of NCIC, said he wants to "walk away from" the civil rights movement comparisons "because the time, history and momentum is different.

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Immigration Rallies Lack National Leader; Differ from Civil Rights Movement
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