Released 08 August 2007  By National Immigrant Solidarity Network
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
2007 - 2008 Strategic Immigrant Campaign Framework
August 8, 2007
Lee Siu Hin
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
On June 28, 2007 the U.S. Senate killed the flawed "Grand Compromise" immigration bill by 46 to 53 votes, an unfortunate but expected outcome for an immigration bill that no one supported.
What does this mean for the immigrant rights movement? Clearly, with the "08" factor around the corner, the Congressional comprehensive immigration legislation is most likely dead until after the 2008 elections--although there is still a possibility of passing some small scale "pro" immigrant legislation. It is more likely that Congress will pass anti-immigrant legislation to provide funding to build the border fence, increase domestic spying and to continue with detention and deportation. We will see more local-level anti-immigrant ordinances popping-up across the country.
The immigrant rights movement should learn the lessons from the past. We must re-exam our strategies and carefully analyze the challenges and opportunities for the next two years if we are to build a new national immigrant strategy(ies) that will be broad based, inclusive, politically principled and tactically accomplishable.
Our Strategic Campaign Focus:
We believe our goals for the next16 months should be focused on building multi-ethnic, multi-constituent, broad-based grassroots immigrant rights movements across the country-especially in the southern states and the rural communities. We envision this as a de-centralized volunteer-based community-rooted immigrant rights movement with youth, women, workers and community members playing a more active role on campaign formulation and decision making processes to shape and lead the movement.
Politically, we should focus LESS on Congressional legislation for the next two years, and focus MORE on building local coalitions, useful resources, and community-based education campaigns, such as: “know your rights” training, and local immigrant campaigns that will directly benefit communities, such as: counter-raids, detention & deportation support networks with useful resources; immigrant labor rights campaigns; campaign against local anti-immigrant ordinances; and linking the immigrant rights movement with other struggles, such as: war in Iraq and globalization.
Based on the feedback from our members and allies we had formulated our 2007-2008 Strategic Immigrant Campaign Strategy during our July 27-29 National Grassroots Immigrant Strategy Conference in Richmond, VA. This is a non-binding resolution, that will only provide you a menu of suggested actions that can guide and encourage your local organization to discuss and choose which action(s) you would like to focus on in order to organize with us:
1. Pressure Political Candidates at 2008 Elections
We will call for major immigrant mobilization during the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO at the end of August 2008, and the Republican National Convention during the 2008 Labor Day weekend in Twin City, MN.
In addition, we also encourage you to consider the following actions:
a. A year-long national and local campaign to pressure political candidates who vote against immigrant rights and pressure candidates to take a firm stand on supporting immigrant rights. Beginning January 2008, we will encourage local immigrant organizations to organize diverse actions (such as: marches, press conferences and town hall meetings to invite candidates) during local primaries that will happen in their states.
b. Endorse and/or run our own pro-immigrant candidates.
2. Link Immigrant Rights Movements with Other Struggles, and Building a Multi-ethnic, Multi-constituent-based Immigrant Rights Movement
We need to link immigrant rights struggles with other diverse struggles to build mutual supports including gender and youth perspectives, such as: war in Iraq/Afghanistan, health care, worker’s rights, Katrina aftermath, environment, globalization and understanding that an injury to one, is an injury to all!
Immigrant rights movements should include immigrant communities from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe, with different religious background and issues: such as youth, LGBTQ, elder, women and disabled persons. In addition, an education campaign on issues that impact immigrant women specifically such as:
a. Legal system: prejudices and treatment of immigrant women
b. Health benefits: the barriers faced by immigrant women in accessing health and reproductive health services.
c. Violence Against Women Act and domestic violence and violence issues particular to the situation of immigrant women.
Furthermore, the immigrant rights movement has a tactical need to link the U.S. war in Iraq and government oppression against immigrants
a. To have the youth immigration movement and the counter recruitment movement work together to create a unified force.
b. The need to forge stronger links between antiwar, immigration and migrant worker movements to make connections and bring the largest amount of pressure on the “empire” or powers that be.
3. Campaign against Raids, Detention & Deportation; and Support National Sanctuary Movement
a. The National Sanctuary Movement, organized by the National Interfaith Workers Justice, and campaigns for cities to declare themselves immigrant sanctuaries.
b. Community-based rapid response networks against raids on immigrants in their homes, and places of employment.
c. National toll-free multi-lingual immigrant support hotlines.
d. Know your rights and anti-raids education campaigns.
e. A campaign and petition demanding the Bush Administration to issue an Executive Order to end the raids.
f. Story collection campaigns of those who have actually experienced an immigration raid.
g. Establishing a link to the African American community to draw parallels with the African American community’s experience with the KKK.
4. Support Immigrant Labor Campaigns and Day Labor Centers
It is always critical that we should closely work with labor organizations, unions and day labor centers to support their campaigns. NISN will provide membership with talking points highlighting immigrant labor struggles to be used to write letters to editors, activists, communities and elected officials.
In addition, we endorse the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Justic@Smithfield Campaign, and their call for:
a. August 29th Smithfield stock holders action at Williamsburg, V.A.
b. Promote strategy of mass actions, strikes and work stoppages as central to the battle in Tarheal, N.C.
5. No to the Border Fence and Militarization of the Border
We will support immigrant and human rights organizations along border states on their campaigns against:
a. Any funding to expand the U.S.-border fencel.
b. Funding to increase the number of border agents.
We will support immigrant and human rights organizations along border states on their campaigns supporting
c. Opposition to the Minute Men.
6. Strategic Resources for the Immigrant Activists
The National Immigrant Solidarity Network will work with different organizations on a joint-collaboration to build strategic resources for the immigrant activists which includes: a new wikipedia-style webpage for the immigrant rights community, Mapping technologies, and "youtube"-style video sharing system (http://www.ImmigrantVideo.net); expanding our monthly "NISN Immigrant Alert" newsletter circulation, "know Your Immigrant Rights" Palm Card Series, and national immigrant support hotlines.
Other suggestions include:
a. Utilize local independent media centers, alternative media and public access to spread immigrant rights messages.
b. NISN to unite nationwide speaker’s bureau to target different multi-ethnic, interfaith communities that have leadership and laity to take a stand on immigration as a justice issue and to make faith communities accountable.
7. Support Local Grassroots Immigrant Campaigns
A true immigrant rights/civil rights/human rights movement should be developed upon mutual understanding, trust and honest exchange of ideas, and an agreement to have an equal partnership in order to work together.
Since our conference was held in Virginia, we support building a Virginia-based immigrant solidarity movement by:
a. Forming a V.A. regional network of contacts to support the Woodbridge March in September and Smithfield meeting.
b. Organizing a tour of Virginia in order forge relationships amongst people living and working in and around the Virginia area
c. Building a Virginia-based immigrant sanctuary movement
We also support the immigrant rights struggles at Virginia’s Prince William County, called by the Mexicanos Sin Fronteras (MSF) and Woodbridge Workers Committee (WWC), which includes their call for a:
a. Massive March on September 2nd.
b. One day work stoppage on October 9th
8. Supports Education Opportunities for Immigrant Youths
We support the DREAM Act without military recruitment, or alternatives to the DREAM Act that will guarantee legalization, vocational training, healthcare access and education for all immigrant youths.
9. Immigrant Legislation
We will continue to demand legislation that provides a full and immediate legalization for all, and pressure government at all levels not to support any anti-immigrant legislation. We are against guest worker programs, and against any future immigrant legislation that will benefit only certain groups of immigrants while against the others (such as: the point system), we consider this divisive and we only support legislation that will benefit all immigrants.
We also support family reunification legislation, such as: reinstatement of section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,which allows people to become documented while residing in the U.S. despite entering the U.S. as an undocumented person.
10. Diverse Tactics for Immigrant Rights Campaign
We support the diverse tactics and strategies to build our immigrant rights movements from different organizations, including:
a. To oppose the Security of Prosperity Partnership in Quebec, Canada on August 20 as a means of opposing the militarization of the borders.
b. Creating our own media movements and support or promote/run our own candidates who share our values.
As much as possible, our tactics should be tied to mass actions uniting the different movements as an alternative to the policies of the Democratic-Republican parties (such as May Day 2008).