Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America

Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America

Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America

Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America

Synopsis

From Alaska to Florida, millions of immigrants and their supporters took to the streets across the United States to rally for immigrant rights in the spring of 2006. The scope and size of their protests, rallies, and boycotts made these the most significant events of political activism in the United States since the 1960s. This accessibly written volume offers the first comprehensive analysis of this historic moment. Perfect for students and general readers, its essays, written by a multidisciplinary group of scholars and grassroots organizers, trace the evolution and legacy of the 2006 protest movement in engaging, theoretically informed discussions. The contributors cover topics including unions, churches, the media, immigrant organizations, and immigrant politics. Today, one in eight U.S. residents was born outside the country, but for many, lack of citizenship makes political voice through the ballot box impossible. This book helps us better understand how immigrants are making their voices heard in other ways.

Excerpt

Five years have passed since millions of people wearing white shirts marched for immigrant rights across the United States. Their activism secured one of the demonstrators’ immediate goals: to prevent Senate passage of the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act, a bill approved by the House of Representatives in December 2005. The marchers also succeeded in bringing attention to a group of people who live and work in communities throughout the country but who often seem invisible and voiceless. As Roberto Suro puts it in his contribution to this volume, immigrants, and especially those without proper documentation, came out of the shadows and into the light during the spring of 2006.

So far, however, those who took to the streets in 2006 have failed to achieve some of their broader goals, notably passage of federal legislation that would provide a path to legalization for the almost twelve million unauthorized migrants living in the United States. Even more modest versions of a legalization program fail to get congressional approval year after year. The DREAM Act, legislation that would provide permanent residency to people brought to the United States as unauthorized migrant children by their parents, has been regularly introduced in Congress over the past ten years but has been stalled or voted down each time.

Deportations, meanwhile, have risen. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers carried out an increasing number of deportations in the final years of the Bush presidency, a trend that continues under the Obama administration. In 2007, there were 319,382 people “removed” from the United States; by 2009, the number stood at 393,289 (Office of Immigration Statistics 2010, 4). Administration officials predicted that deportations would reach a new high in 2010.

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