Immigrant communities in California believe there is not much to celebrate or be proud about when they feel harassed and persecuted. Yet, in Los Angeles, August is Immigrant Pride Month. It is the preamble to September, Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S.
While opponents of any form of legalization insist that any concession to the undocumented and their communities equals 'amnesty,' the LA City Council proclaimed August (for the 2nd consecutive year) as Immigrant Pride Month, celebrating with diverse events including a commemoration at Dodger stadium with a Dodgers-Rockies game this Sunday, August 28th.
The resolution, originally enacted in 2010 as a counter example to the anti-illegal immigration law SB1070 in Arizona, was reinstated for 2011 at the beginning of this month, as an attempt by all council members to recognize the contributions of 1.6 million immigrants that make up 40 percent of Los Angeles population.
"Last year, this month was declared Immigrant Pride Month as part of the movement against Arizona's initiative SB1070; and with it, we promoted a boycott to that state. After the boycott we were determined to give a positive image and position Los Angeles and California as part of the hegemony of Latinos and immigrants living here... In Arizona, there is the perception that all immigrants are bad, and in California we wanted to depict the opposite and show that Latino immigrants have done a huge contribution to their communities," told me Antonio Gonzalez, President of the William C. Velasquez Institute.
Gonzalez is well aware that although the U.S.-Mexico border is not being overrun with violence as it is happening domestically in Mexico, there are profound concerns about the illicit activity by the cartels, and about how this problem is affecting the public perception of illegal immigration. He added that in consequence, repression against these communities is still consistent and that the Immigrant Pride Month "calls for schools, unions, activists, civilians, and 30 diverse organizations to assist in building a positive image about immigrants." The tragic event occurred on Thursday, in northern Monterrey, Mexico, where 52 people were killed by members of a cartel, has raised serious concerns this side of the border, regarding how it will affect immigration flows and the immigrant communities already here.
"We remain extremely concerned about the implications of this major act of violence and increased migration north. We urge the Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to study what remedies can be made available to Mexicans fleeing the violence and seeking refuge in the United States. In the least, we call on DHS to reconsider the blind expansion of police-immigration collaboration programs such as 'Secure Communities' and other immigration enforcement schemes responsible for up to a million deportations of immigrants in the past two and a half years. A large majority of those deportees are Mexicans who arrive to a country facing devastating violence and insecurity," said in a statement Angelica Salas, Executive Director for CHIRLA.
Nativo Lopez, national director of the Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, said that given all the historical events seen in Congress and the White House, "the truth is" that Obama has executed more deportations than Jimmy Carter.
"Since the days of Carter, we have not experienced this level of harassment, persecution and deportation of immigrants ... being that Obama is allegedly a liberal Democrat, and that Latinos gave him their vote of hope. And there we have Secure Communities, a program which we have protested against ... so we came out with the idea to implement the month of the immigrant, as a national resistance to this persecution," Lopez explained.
"It is ironic, yet historical, that our people are being persecuted in this way by someone who our own hopeful immigrants had supported (to be elected.) We had no other option than seeking allies and found them where we least expected; as it has been in the Dodgers' organization that gave us the support to celebrate the immigrant pride."
A coalition of Latino groups and activists including Pomona Habla, the Latino/Latina Roundtable, Community Union, William C. Velasquez Institute, Hermandad Mexicana Latinoamericana, the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, the Union of Communities for Salvadoran Day, AYSA, COFEM, MAPA, and many others will be present at Dodger stadium this Sunday, when the resolution author, Councilman Ed Reyes will throw out the first pitch.