,,,,,,7=:*:;;;;;I. Luissana Santibanez vx ,:,,,,..x.k. ,..Di40i MMOKMMIWat Photos by Alan Pogue One Year Bolder FTERWORD I BY BARBARA BELEJACK TM hey took to the streets by the tens of thousands last spring, some walking out of schools or off their jobs, to pro test draconian immigration reforms under consideration by the then-Republican Congress. The sheer numbers of immigrants and immigrant-rights activists who protested from Los Angeles to Dallas, Boise to Milwaukee, Phoenix to Chicago, were unlike anything the country had seen since the 1960s. They caught the mainstream media off guard, bedazzling with the power of Spanish-language media and the effectiveness of myspace.com as an organizing tool. One year later, the worst of the reform legislationa bill by Republican Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin that would have criminalized not only undocumented immigrants but anyone, including teachers and church workers, who tried to assist themis dead. Despite rumbling and posturing and much-discussed “behind the scenes” strategizing, it seems unlikely that any comprehensive immigration reform legislation will emerge from Congress this year. The mobilization that was heralded as a new civil rights movement, however, still has a long way to go. In the aftermath of the spring marches, U.S. Immigration and Customs EnforcementICE, as it’s knownhas conducted a series of nationwide workplace raids. A spate of anti-immigrant measures has emerged at state and local levels. In the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch, for instance, voters will decide in May whether to approve a housing ordinance requiring apartment managers to verify the immigration status of prospective tenants. President Bush continues to push his vision of reform, but can’t get around the stalemate with forces pushing for an aggressive border crackdown as the first step to stemming illegal immigration. There are far smaller groups marching the streets this spring, but the hunger for a compassionate immigration policy remains, and a new generation of activists is finding its voice. Here, in their words, are two of them. LUISSANA SANTIBANEZ is a 23year-old senior majoring in government at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the Austin Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. Last year the Center for African and African-American Studies at UT wanted to do a May Day celebration, where they converged with people at the Capitol for the immigrant rights movement. I remember asking somebody if she could speak at the event and her basically saying, “Why don’t you speak? Your APRIL 20, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29
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