For: Saturday, January 7, 2006
Contact: Chris Newman, Legal Program Coordinator, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON)
Phone: (323) 717-5310 Email: email@example.com
NATIONAL DAY LABORER COMMUNITY RESPONDS TO VIGILANTE ATTACKS!
Day workers across the country will peacefully respond to coordinated vigilante actions organized by Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control and local cells of the so-called “Minutemen.”
The recent wave of attacks is nothing new to the day worker community. Throughout 2005, similar attempts to incite violence and generate chaos against day laborers were experienced in Phoenix, AZ., Herndon, VA, and elsewhere. In Redondo Beach, CA, Joseph Turner, founder of Save Our State, encouraged members of his group to bring baseball bats, noting “if we're lucky, we're gonna need them.”**
“History inevitably judges and condemns efforts like these to scapegoat those with the least among us as shameful, regrettable, and immoral,” said Pablo Alvarado, National Coordinator of NDLON. “In contrast, the dignified response of disenfranchised communities against this type of mistreatment always serves as an example to us all.” Within this spirit, day workers respond with exemplary peaceful, dignified, and respectful actions while reaffirming and redeeming the legacy of the real Patriots who came to this country in search of a better life and to build a more perfect Union.
The actions of vigilantes are motivated by, and an inspiration to, hate groups and white supremacists concerned about the changing demographics in our communities. At a recent event in Herndon, VA, a man “patrolled” a day labor corner with a t-shirt that said White Pride. “Under no circumstances can vigilante action be accepted in a civil society,” said Salvador Reza, Executive Director of Tonatierra in Phoenix, AZ. “It is our obligation to shine light on their dark motives” Reza added.
The white supremacist movement has been behind anti-immigrant efforts throughout its history. Over 25 years ago, Imperial Wizard, David Duke, launched the Klan Border Watch with the intention of stretching their patrols from California to Texas and revive the Klan's days of glory. Saturday's protest represents a realization of his vision. This is the real face of the anti-day laborer/anti-immigrant movement.
The national day laborer community advocates for true immigration reform and constructive solutions to local issues. According to Grace Heyman, Director of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition in New York, “Any proposal for true immigration reform in Washington D.C. must start by recognizing the fact that 12 million people deserve permanent residency and a path to citizenship and political equality. Any other approach is fantastically unrealistic. Whether these vigilantes like it or not, this country needs its immigrant workforce.”
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 4.3% of the civilian work force is comprised of unauthorized workers, with disproportionately high densities of representation in low skill, labor intensive industries like construction, agriculture, and home care. A very small but vocal minority has clearly seized upon concerns related to failed immigration policy in order to advance a pernicious, xenophobic agenda. The irony is, of course, the effect of not only making comprehensive immigration reform less likely, but also of making our country a less attractive place for us all to live in peace and harmony.
Blaming migrant workers for failed immigration policy is like blaming the miner for the dangerous conditions of the mine. These groups are quite literally terrorizing day laborers and our neighborhoods. It is absurd. The people they label 'invaders' are the very people building our homes, serving our food, and feeding our kids. They're our neighbors.”
Wherever militia and paramilitary actions target day workers they will defend themselves with peaceful, non-violent resistance. In each instance, the day laborers will:
1. Monitor, photograph and film the Minutemen and similar groups in order to document and prevent violence and hate crimes. Day laborers, allies and friends will also demonstrate to counteract the actions and messages of such groups.
2. Defend the street corners and work centers where day laborers congregate to solicit employment in order to feed themselves and their loved ones.
3. Denounce the xenophobia and racism promoted by the vigilantes and their supporters.
4. Send and unequivocal message: There is no space for hatred, prejudice, violence and provocation in our neighborhoods.
5. Honor the men and women, children and elders, who have lost their lives while migrating to this country in their quest for a better future; and
6. Send a message of peace and reconciliation to those groups that hate Immigrants. The day laborers don't lodge hatred or bigotry in their hearts and minds. In this sense, the sentiment is not mutual.
NDLON was officially founded in 2001 and is composed of 30 community-based organizations that work with day laborers in different capacities. NDLON's mission is to advance the human, labor, and civil rights of day workers throughout the United States and to strengthen and expand the work of local day laborer organizing groups, in order to become more effective and strategic in building leadership, advancing low-wage worker and immigrant rights, and developing successful models for organizing immigrant contingent/temporary workers.
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
310 8th Street Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel (510) 465-1984 ext. 305
Fax (510) 465-1885