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For May Day and Beyond: White People Step Up for Immigrant Rights

by Catalyst Project & Heads Up Collective Wednesday, Apr. 26, 2006 at 10:19 AM

Open Letter to White Communities.

For May Day and Beyond: White People Step up for Immigrant Rights!

In the past month, five million people, mostly immigrants of color, have mobilized for justice and are making history, flooding the streets in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, the most visible participation by white people is coming from the racist and right wing leaders who are defining and dominating the debate in the Federal government and in the news, radio and opinion pages. Where are the voices of anti-racist white people in this crucial moment, when the worst anti-immigrant legislation in decades is still poised to drop?

We, white people who believe in justice and ending racism, have a responsibility and a historic opportunity to stand with immigrant communities and unite behind their demands. As white people, most of us with U.S. citizenship, we call out to our white communities to take to the streets for immigrant rights. We must demonstrate that the rightwing racists, from the Minutemen to in the Congress, do not represent us!

Anyone who has experienced this month’s electrifying, grassroots explosion feels the power and excitement growing. Working-class immigrants, with their crucial roles in the economy and culture of the U.S., have real power to reshape this country, as a vibrant part of broad multiracial movements for justice and equality. As anti-racist white people, we have a role to play in this struggle.

Immigrants are the direct targets of these policies, and we know enforcement will aim at immigrants of color. But we are all endangered by the accelerating drive of this country towards greater abuse of working people, more criminalization of poor/working-class people, and of all communities of color, particularly African-Americans. Our futures are tied together and now is the time to stand with immigrants fighting for their rights.

The ruling class in the United States has historically led anti-immigrant campaigns to divide working people, getting people to blame one another for stealing their jobs while corporations build their financial empires from all of our labor. Building from a foundation of enslaved African labor and mass land theft from indigenous nations, corporations used anti-immigrant campaigns against the Irish, Italian, Jews. Chinese, Japanese, Eastern Europeans and other immigrants, to deny them legal protections, attack unions and maintain cheap labor to under-cut better waged jobs. These campaigns intensified with the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 1880’s and as more and more European immigrants were assimilated into white society, immigrants of color from Asia and then Latin America were targeted to be a permanent low wage, legally unprotected, work force to drive wages down and corporate profits up.

White people have led and rallied behind anti-immigrant campaigns in the millions throughout the history of this country and today a new history for immigrant justice is being written and we have a responsibility to be part of it. We’re fighting two racist agendas: big businesses need to retain a vulnerable pool of exploitable labor, and the blatant organized racists want to preserve white political dominance and agitate for mass deportations. This divided right wing unites to dehumanize immigrants of color, working to strip them of any rights or protections. The small handful of mostly white billionaires backing and benefiting from these strategies depends on our complicity. Instead, let’s build upon the legacy of anti-racist white people who have refused to participate in divide and conquer strategies, where the ruling class historically uses race to pit us against each other.

White people need to take responsibility for countering the attacks generated by white racists, from the border to the White House.

If you’re a white person who stands for justice, we encourage you to step it up. How can you more actively support immigrants fighting for their rights, and encourage your families and friends to get more involved? What local organizing by immigrants can you support with your time, money, and resources? On April 23rd in the Bay Area, and throughout the country on May 1st (International Workers’ Day) immigrant communities around the country will again take the streets. Let’s be there in greater numbers: on the streets beside our friends and neighbors, raising our voices in the national debate, making a commitment to organizing more white people to stand up against attacks on immigrants.

This letter comes to you from two Bay Area-based white anti-racist organizations, Catalyst Project and the Heads Up Collective. Heads Up is a member organization of the Deporten a La Migra Coalition, which is primarily composed of organizations based in working-class immigrant communities. We ask you to act in solidarity with the principles generated by the Deporten a La Migra Coalition, Immigrants Fighting For Our Rights. They are:

ß The land is for those who work it!
ß No more displacement
ß The border is hypocritical
ß Unity makes us strong
ß Demand dignity and equality for all immigrants
ß In every neighborhood, organize!

(please read full text at http://www.liberationink.com/revised/navigator.php?s=2&a=deporten)

If you agree with these principles, we invite you to sign this letter and make your signature a commitment to putting them into action in your work and life.

In struggle,
Catalyst Project and the Heads Up Collective

Endorsed by:
Carlos Mun~oz, Jr., professor, UC Berkeley, author, "Youth, Identity, Power: the Chicano Movement"
Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez, Institute for Multiracial Justice
Maria Poblet, St Peters Housing Committee
Eric Mar
Eunice Cho
Jose Palafox, professor, Stanford University
Kali Akuno, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
Sheila Chung, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition
Renee Saucedo, Day Labor Program/La Raza Centro Legal
Phil Hutchings, Institute for Multiracial Justice
(organizations for identification purposes only)

Catalyst Project and Heads Up Collective were inspired by the work of white anti-racists with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice in New York City, and Italian Americans for Immigrant Rights in the Bay Area, who put out similiar open letters to move white people to stand for immigrant rights. By signing here, we are also joining with the thousands of white people participating in those and other efforts.

Please sign on if you stand with the principles above. To add your signature to those below, go to this link:


**organizations listed for identification purposes only**

Adam Gilbert, Taiwan
Adam Welch, Industrial Workers of the World
Ailecia Ruscin, teacher/student, Lawrence KS
Alex Briscoe, Illinois Green Party/Green Alliance USA
Alexis Shotwell, UAW 2865, Long Road Collective
Amie Fishman, Catalyst Project
Amy Sonnie, Youth Media Council
Ananda Hopkins, San Antonio TX
Andrea Lee, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, San Francisco CA
Andrew Willis, Washington, D.C.
Annie Kane, Alameda CA
Amy Dudley, Rural Organizing Project, Portland OR
Andy Cornell, GSOC/UAW Local 2110, Brooklyn NY
April Rosenblum, author, The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere: Making Resistance to Antisemitism Part of All Our Movements
Ariel Lucky
Axeen, Childcare Collective
B Loewe, Latino Union of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Barbara Johnson Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA
Beth Applegate
Betty G. Robinson, Baltimore Education Network and Baltimore Algebra Project
Bill Quigley, Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans
Brandon Mau, Fort Collins, CO
Brooke Atherton
Brooke DuBose
Camilo Viveiros, community organizer, Fall River, Massachusetts
Cathy Rion, Heads Up Collective
Charlotte Albrecht, Louisville KY
Chris Crass, Catalyst Project
Chris Dixon, UAW 2865 Members for Quality Education and Democracy
Chris Ferlazzo, Portland Jobs with Justice, Oregan
Chuck Munson, infoshop.org, Kansas City
Claire Hobden, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project
Clare Bayard, Catalyst Project/Heads Up Collective
Claude Marks, Freedom Archives
Clayton Dewey, Unitarian Universalist Young Adult Network, Laramie WY
cori schmanke parrish, North Star Fund
Chance Martin, editor Street Sheet Magazine
Dee Ouellette, mother
Diana Block, California Coalition for Women Prisoners
Dan Berger, Resistance in Brooklyn, co-editor "Letters from Young Activists"
Dara Silverman, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
David Christian
David Schanoes
David Solnit, Courage to Resist
Deborah Morales, Labor Employment Services, Syracuse, NY
Dixie Block, Oakland
Drew Dellinger, Poets for Global Justice
Elizabeth Samuels, Bring the Ruckus
Ellen Chenoweth, D.C. resident
Elly Kugler, City at Peace D.C
Emma Gerould, SEIU 790
Emiliy Seabridge
Eric Romann, Generation Five
Fern Feto Spring,
Geoff McNamara, Portland OR
Giuliana Milanese
Gordon Kaupp
Harmony Goldberg
Heather Meader-McCausland
Heidi Reijm, Ruby Affinity Group, Brooklyn, NY
Hillary Ronen, Day Labor Program/ La Raza Centro Legal
Holmes Hummel, San Francisco
Hope Sanford, Houston TX
Ian McCleod, San Francisco Indymedia
Ian White-Maher
Ingrid Chapman, Catalyst Project
Isabell Moore, ESOL teacher & coordinator Anti-Racist Organizing Network of North Carolina
Jacob B, New School For Social Research
Jackie Downing
James Tracy, SF Community Land Trust
Jarrod Schwartz, National Conference on Community and Justice
Jeff Giaquinto, Heads Up Collective, teacher, Galileo High School
Jen Angel, Clamor, Toledo OH
Jen Collins, mother
Jene’ Despain
Jennica jey Born, IBEW local #3
Jennifer Jewell, Women In Transition, Louisville, KY
Jennifer Miller, Oakland, CA
Jennifer Morley, Athens, GA
Jeremy Louazo
Jerry Path, Sign Display LU 510, San Francisco Labor Council
Jessica Lehman, Emeryville CA
Jill Shenker,San Francisco Day Labor Program Women’s Collective/La Raza Centro Legal
Jim Ace
Jim McAsey, Director- Jobs with Justice, Farmingdale NY
John Crockford
John Wood, ABD, Oklahoma State University, Assistant Professor, Rose State College
Joseph Phelan , Miami FL
Jordan Flaherty, Left Turn Magazine
Josh Connor, Bay Area Childcare Collective
Josh Raisler Cohn, Washington D.C.
Josh Sonnenfeld, UC Santa Cruz Students Against War
Josh Warren-White, Catalyst Project and Just Cause Oakland
Joshu Asperry, AFSCHME
Judy Helfland, community educator and activist
Kate Berrigan, Critical Resistance
Kerry Levenberg, teacher
Kev L
Kevin D’Amato, Southern California Anarchist Federation, LA Chapter
Kristen Petroshius, Groundwork, Madison WI
Laura Close, SEIU Local 503, Child Care Campaign, Portland OR
Kusum Crimmel, Y-Step: Youth Step Towards Addressing Racism
Laura Price, Solidarity, Maine
Lauren O’Brien, Seattle WA
Dr. Laurence H. Shoup, UAW 1981, Oakland Green Party
Leah Jeannesdaughter Klerr
Leone Reinbold, Omak WI
Leslie Radford, Los Angeles CA
Libbey Goldberg, Jews for a Free Palestine, Oakland CA
Loren Finkelstein, San Francisco CA
Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, Oberlin, OH
Maggie Von Vogt
Marc Krupanski, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project
Mari Spira, Justice Now and UC Santa Cruz
Mark Rudd, Albuquerque NM
Mary Miller, San Francisco CA
Matt Meyer, War Resisters League
Matthew Borus, Tekiah: A Jewish Call to Action Boston, MA
Matthew Smucker, Lancaster Coalition for Peace & Justice, Lancaster PA
Maureen Haver, Houston Global Awareness, Texas
Max Uhlenbeck, Left Turn Magazine
Meg Starr, Resistance in Brooklyn
Melody Mayer, Oakland
Mica Root, Philadelphia PA
Michael King, Vancouver WA
Michelle Foy, Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Michelle Gerster, Oakland CA
Molly McClure, Philadelphia PA
Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, TGI Justice Project
Nadia Winstead, San Francisco CA
Nancy Jodaitis, San Francisco CA
Nancy Lister, Wilbraham MA
Natasha Marsh, League of Young Voters
Nicole Solomon, Brooklyn NY
Nike Carstaphen, Washington D.C.
Noah Gaiser, Free Mind Media
Patrick Reinsborough, smartMeme Strategy and Training Project
Paul Kivel, educator and writer
Paul Platt, San Francisco
Rahula Janowski, mother, Heads Up, Justice In Palestine Coalition
Rebecca Johnson
Riva Pearson
Robin Reichhardt, México DF
Robinson Block, Houston TX
Roger Zimmerman, Los Angeles CA
Ruby Affinity Group, Brooklyn, NY
Ryan Emenaker, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County
Sailor J Lewis Wallace, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Samuel Goldberger, West Hartford CN
Sara Smith, UAW 2865 Members for Quality Education and Democracy
Sasha Costanza-Chock, Los Angeles Indymedia
Sasha Vodnik, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Scott Campbell
Scott Tucker, Los Angeles CA
Sean Sullivan, Ruby Affinity Group, Brooklyn
Seth Newton, AFSCME Local 3299
Sharon Martinas, Challenging White Supremacy Workshop
Steve Theberge, War Resisters League
Teresa Martyny
Thomas Fiori, Boston MA
Tom Wetzel
Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Trish Kerle
Vanessa Sacks, Childcare Collective
Walda Katz-Fishman, Project South

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