Skip to comments.Latino general strike urged
Posted on 12/11/2003 6:34:37 AM PST by boris
Latino general strike urged
Immigrant driver's license issue revisited
By James Nash
Some Latino advocacy groups are asking California's 11 million Hispanics to stay home from work and not to shop Friday, a boycott they say will draw attention to Latino economic clout and to the cause of allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally.
The daylong economic boycott is supported by Latino organizations such as the Mexican American Political Association and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. But some observers question whether rank-and-file Latino workers will forgo a day's wages to participate.
"Immigrants, legal or otherwise, play a vital role in our economy," said Jose Hernandez, mayor of San Fernando and a founder of the Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Northridge.
"The problem I have is, I don't know if the communities are well-enough organized to have a successful boycott. A lot of people are still getting back to work after the (Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus and rail) strike."
The Latino groups made plans for the boycott at the beginning of the month after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger persuaded state legislators to repeal a law allowing undocumented immigrants to get licenses to drive. Critics accused then-Gov. Gray Davis of pandering to Latino activists by signing the measure into law in September without adequate security provisions.
The Friday boycott is intended not only to put pressure on Schwarzenegger and lawmakers to change course, but also to highlight the growing economic power of California Latinos, who constitute 45 percent of the state's work force, organizers said.
"It's very important because it will show the solidarity of the community," said Carlos Montes, president of Centro Community Service Organization, a Latino educational advocacy group based in East Los Angeles. "We're mad and we're demanding respect as immigrants, as Latinos in California."
If widely observed, the boycott will cripple segments of the Los Angeles County economy dominated by Latino workers, such as manufacturing and food services, said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
"It's a huge economy, but it would inflict some specific pain," Kyser said.
Abel Valenzuela Jr., a professor at the Cesar E. Chavez Center for Interdisciplinary Instruction in Chicana and Chicano Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the planned boycott is unprecedented in California. If most Latinos join in the action, it would mean few workers in restaurant kitchens, hotels and residential cleaning services, Valenzuela said.
"It would really result in a slowdown, if not a complete stoppage, in a lot of sectors of the economy," he said.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, said he doubts that many Latinos will join the boycott. He noted that many Latino voter supported Schwarzenegger in the Oct. 7 recall election and that many Latinos also oppose driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.
"I see this as all part of an effort to gain amnesty for millions of people who are here illegally and pretty much open the borders to anyone who wants to come," Mehlman said.
Schwarzenegger's office did not return a call for comment.
James Nash, (213) 978-0390 firstname.lastname@example.org
Racist general strike urged.
It is quickly becoming "The Near Future"
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