While many genuine immigration rights activists are celebrating the success of recent massive rallies and demonstrations they may be missing the invisible hand behind some of these events. Activists may see grassroots organizing and a spontaneous out pouring of people into the street. But what the corporations see is a huge market to co-opt, manipulate and plunder.
One of the Washington DC based organizations behind this is the National Council of La Raza. Don’t let the La Raza part of their name fool you. This no grassroots group and they have close ties with some very large corporations The same multinationals that many see as the root cause of the poverty that forces people to leave their homeland in search of work.
In a recent article by Anna Kunkin, Another face to the immigration discussion the relationship between immigration and the neo-liberal trade policies imposed on the nation states of the global South is well discussed.
If we accept the premise that the current wave of illegal immigration into the US is a direct result of neo-liberalism and trade deals like NAFTA then perhaps a change in US trade policy should be part of the discussion. As Kunkin points out, “People don't want to leave their homes, their family, their life, to suffer and do backbreaking work; nobody does.”
However none of this is being debated by Congress or even by the organizers of the demonstrations. Why? Well let’s take a look at the NCLR’s corporate backers. Here is a short list from the group’s web site: Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Citigroup, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, BNA Corporation, PepsiCo Foundation, The PMI Group, Inc., State Farm Insurance Companies, UPS, Univision, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Source - www.nclr.org
The interests of immigrants and these corporations are diametrically opposed. Why then do these corporations fund an organization that plans and organizes demonstrations? One answer might be, what better way to keep the masses they are exploiting from rising up then by controlling the funding for the very groups that organize the demonstrations. This is an old trick, one that many anti-war activists have become familiar with. And anyone who has attended the King Day Parade in recent years can attest to the degree to which governmental agencies and corporations have co-opted many social movements. (see The Cancer of Militarism: JROTC March in MLK Day Parade in LA)
These marches might be viewed as containment protests to keep people’s focus on the symbolic protest of appealing to elected officials instead of direct protest in the form of boycotts against Wal-Mart for example.
The more important question might be, why does NCLR actively solicit money from these corporations and what is the real agenda here? And how do people who genuinely want to address immigration rights issues work within this environment of front groups and not become political pawns in some one else’s game?