May 1, 2006

How Big Will The Walkout Get?

Today's planned boycott and walkout on behalf of illegal immigrants garnered plenty of press in the past week, but some question just how many will actually risk exposure and the loss of their jobs. The Washington Post notes the divisions within the ranks of immigration activists and their trepidation at the bedfellows that have hitched a ride on this issue:

Some local activists predicted that thousands of Washington area immigrants would participate in a national economic boycott today, but immigrant groups who have spoken out against the boycott said they fear that the immigration reform movement is being commandeered to promote political causes beyond immigration.

The public tug of war, which continued in the Washington area yesterday on Spanish-language radio, could result in more limited participation in the region than is expected in Dallas and Los Angeles, where the organizers of last month's massive protests have been more unified in support of today's boycott, which asks immigrants to refrain from buying goods and to stay home from work and school. ...

The discord, Contreras said, is not over whether boycotting is a valid tactic. But with Congress just back from a recess after a contentious debate on the subject -- and with a recent CNN poll showing that 77 percent of Americans favor allowing some illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship -- he said most local activists feel it is best to wait to see how Congress reacts.

Some local Latino leaders said they worry about being associated with a Los Angeles-based group, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), that has been active in promotion of the boycott. They said they fear that the group's broad-based opposition to Bush administration policies could hinder attempts to win allies for immigration reform on Capitol Hill.

The unabashed Stalinsts at ANSWER create a huge problem for the immigration-reform activists. The impression given by ANSWER's inclusion is that the issue has become a Trojan horse for eliminating national sovereignty and the promotion of communism, much as their anti-war protests became. The last thing that the more reputable immigration groups need is another march on national TV with thousands of Che Guevara T-shirts in the fore.

The scheduling of the boycott also plays into this. It probably would have made more sense to protest on Friday, which is already a big cultural holiday in the American Southwest and a national holiday in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo. In fact, many of those protesting probably already made arrangements for celebrations and time off from work. Conducting a walkout would have not only been easier, but it would not have required the additional work break that this boycott now demands of them. However, May 1 hold special significance as a socialist holiday, which is why ANSWER selected it for this walkout.

The groups that had sponsored earlier demonstrations have their reservations about associating with the Socialists. As the Post notes, a number of the people involved have bad experiences with communists in Central America and came to the US to avoid them. Others do not want their cause confused with the radical-left agenda that ANSWER promotes. As a result, only one of the 47 organizations that backed earlier immigration demonstrations has officially endorsed the May Day Boycott. Not surprisingly, Mexicans Without Borders supports many of the same leftist agenda items as ANSWER -- anti-war, opposed to national sovereignty, and anti-globalization.

Speaking of which, has anyone ever asked these dolts how they can oppose national sovereignty in the same breath as globalization?

This internal conflict will probably result in smaller turnouts than predicted, although the walkout will probably get some traction in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, and other major cities of the Southwest. The demonstrations will probably consist of those who could not work today anyway. Most of the rest will probably remain on the job, afraid of losing their economic lifeline and of getting discovered as illegals by their employers or the INS. Expect the media to magnify the crowd numbers, however.

If the walkout gets as big as ANSWER wants, they should be prepared for the backlash in Congress. This is one demonstration that has a large capacity for unintended consquences.

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