Copyrighted material


by Daffodil Altan

on immigrant civil rights movement

(PNS) -- An eclectic snapshot of editorials and opinion columns from various U.S. ethnic newspapers refutes what some reports have called a confused or fragmented movement. The underlying theme is loud and clear: this movement is big. It includes all immigrants. And it's not going away anytime soon.

The Korea Daily Editorial by Yong Pil Park (Los Angeles)

In August 1969, Jimi Hendrix performed the opening ceremony at Woodstock. He lived only 28 years, but in that short time he became a symbol of his generation. His rendition of the national anthem was a profound statement in opposition to the ongoing Vietnam War. The audience stood stunned, overwhelmed by the energy of Hendrix's guitar. The anti-war demonstrations that followed Woodstock were in part inspired by Hendrix's performance.

During recent immigration protests, Hispanic immigrants were heard singing the national anthem in Spanish, sparking a national debate that even President Bush weighed in on. Addressing reporters Bush insisted on the national anthem being sung in English.

Although I am a Korean immigrant both Hendrix's anthem and the anthem sung by Hispanic protesters moved me deeply, making myself and other Koreans a part of this movement.

Leaving the rally in Los Angeles, I felt certain that, like the anti-war movement in the 1960s, we immigrants will change the shape of America.

El Diario/La Prensa Opinion by Rossana Rosado, General Manager and CEO (New York)

At Dunkin' Donuts, the owners are Filipino and the employees Ecuadorian and Mexican. At the cleaner's, it is a Chinese family that has seen my children grow. The man with Con Edison that comes to see how much electricity we have consumed is from Africa and those that come to cut the grass are Mexican, employees of an Italian neighbor who still makes wine in his cellar.

It never has occurred to me to ask any of these people if they are in this country legally or not. But what I do know is that I cannot live without them.

Indian Country Today Editorial

Indian nations often welcomed the European arrivals in the spirit of hospitality. Early Jesuit missionaries recounted forcing their way into a longhouse in an Iroquois village, knowing that once inside they would not be kicked out by their involuntary hosts.

With this background, Indian country has to look with some bemusement at the hostility shown to new arrivals by descendants of these previous immigrants, who at the very least overstayed their welcome. To heap on the irony, at least half of the estimated 12 million "illegal aliens" in the United States have indigenous roots in Mexico and the Central American countries created by the uncontrolled immigration of Spanish conquistadors.

La Opinion Editorial (Los Angeles)

The peaceful marches by hundreds of thousands of immigrants and citizens, of documented and undocumented, of men, women and children, showed a community respectful of laws but firm in their conviction. Multitudes of people participated in some 150 different kinds of nonviolent actions to defend themselves against the ignorant or malicious attacks by political demagogues. The popular movement that rose weeks ago continues to grow massively and maintain an exemplary attitude that should be a source of pride for all.

It's important to stress that in big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, immigrants from many diverse parts of the world participated by marching and closing their businesses in solidarity.

Sing Tao Daily Editorial by Joseph Leung, Editor-in-Chief

Latino Americans have shown the whole country their strength from yesterday's march, but when it comes to legalizing undocumented immigrants, how much can one rally change the minds of many? Perhaps not by much.

Some Chinese restaurants were among the few businesses that remain open in San Francisco's predominately Latino neighborhoods. During the lunch hour yesterday their business was bustling, almost as if the owners had made up their minds that no matter how the rallies go, they will do business as usual.

Some Latino community leaders had called for people to not walk out of work; rumors circulated that the police might be rounding up undocumented immigrants. But that did nothing to change the scale of the protest. It also did little to stop undocumented immigrants from being interviewed by the media. Undocumented immigrants who want legal status are firmly standing their ground, venting the oppression they have had to endure for years. They are the hardest working group of people in our society but also the lowest paid -- they face discrimination and lack position in our society.

After May 1, we will see more division and an even more acrimonious debate on immigration.

Nguoi Viet Opinion By Ky Phong Tran

When the economy is tanking and you're losing a war, what else is there to do but pick on the most vulnerable people in our society? Those who have no rights but who wash your car and watch your kids. In grade school, I was jumped and robbed by bigger kids, and I have never liked bullies. That's what I see, a bunch of bullies picking on the little guy.

So where do I stand? As an immigrant, a refugee and exile from an imperial war, the son of a nail salon worker and a furniture salesman, someone who grew up without health insurance, a person of color, an artist -- I support the real American Dream.

Thirty years ago, Vietnamese people came to this country -- without documents -- looking for the very same things as those marching in the streets: a chance at a stable job, education for their children, an opportunity.

In their struggle, I see my struggle and I cannot turn my back to it nor close the gate behind me. I cannot speak for all of us, but I can for speak for myself and hope others join me.

I support the human rights of undocumented immigrants. And I chide the hypocritical alliance between big business' lust for cheap labor and social conservatives' racist vision of America.

Asian Week Opinion by Deep Iyer (San Francisco)

Korean immigrants in Los Angeles, Vietnamese immigrants in Chicago, Chinese and Filipino Americans in the D.C. area, South Asians in New York City -- they are all marching and rallying for the same reasons -- to raise our voices in unison for the rights of all immigrants in America.

Why are Asian Americans invested in the immigrant rights movement taking place today in America?

We are the second fastest-growing immigrant group in this country. Two-thirds of our community in America are immigrants. Two out of every 11 million undocumented workers in this country come from Asia. Almost a century ago, because of unfair immigration and civil rights policies, Chinese immigrants were not allowed to own land in America; Indian immigrants were not allowed to naturalize; Korean immigrants were not allowed to come to America to join their families; Japanese immigrants were interned.

I have faith that our lawmakers will have no choice but to listen to all of our voices here and in other cities today and over the next two weeks.

I have faith that together, we can enter a future that respects the diversity, energy and power that immigrants bring to America.

El Diario/La Prensa Editorial (New York)

At this newspaper, people from all departments -- immigrants and the children of immigrants -- left our desks and work stations, went down to the sidewalk and linked arms to form a human chain at 12:16 p.m. The time represents Dec. 16, 2005, the day the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Sensenbrenner-King bill, which would make it a felony to be an undocumented immigrant, or to help someone who is.

Politically Hispanics have made important progress of late, with three Latinos in the U.S. Senate and a Latino mayor in Los Angeles for the first time in more than 100 years. Yet in most communities Hispanics do not yet have the numbers to give them political clout. But the Hispanic population is young and growing rapidly, and these assemblies have demonstrated that another effective way to influence public policy is through a strong show of force.

Now the challenge is to keep the momentum going, to keep up the pressure for a fair and just immigration policy that weighs the rights of everyone and provides dignity and justice for all.

Rumbo Opinion by Gregg Barrios (San Antonio, Texas)

The new student movement has its roots in the years between 1968 and 1972, when young Chicano (Mexican-American) students took to the streets to protest.

Back then, to speak in our mother tongue was prohibited at school, there were no classes or lessons about our history, our culture or our literature. The contributions or biographies of Hispanic scholars were not included in textbooks.

Some battles were lost, but the war was won. The result? Among others, more Latino teachers and counselors in schools and universities, bilingual education in primary school, and classes about Mexican Americans throughout the country.

The student walkouts conducted last month were, in part, a brave response from the children of working immigrants against new measures like HR4437 being discussed in the Senate.

But today this is not only a Chicano issue, but an issue for all immigrants. The Spanish speaking media have reflected the positive successes of this movement. They have inspired our compatriots to participate in the marches.

On May 1 we are all immigrants. And with one united voice, like a united race, we have the power to change our world for the advancement of all people.

Jewish News Weekly Column by Rachel Biale

I am an immigrant. My parents were illegal immigrants. My ancestors were perennial immigrants. Through good fortune, I came legally to this country. But my parents, escaping the Nazis, were caught off the coast of Haifa by the British and deported as illegal immigrants.

Most readers of this column are the children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of immigrants. As a community, our position on the current debate on immigration must be informed by this legacy.

In addressing the current immigration-related swelling of public protest and Washington partisanship, we must begin with this empathy for the stranger and oppose any legislation that will criminalize immigrants and the citizens who give them basic humanitarian aid.

As we debate the complex issue of immigration, we must remember the commandment to "understand the heart of the stranger."

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor   May 2, 2006   (

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