Looking back, moving ahead
subtitle: Organizers of last year's huge immigrant rights rally in L.A. reflect on successes and goals as they ready for Sunday's anniversary events.
Nearly one year after a massive Los Angeles protest march electrified the immigrant rights movement, the original organizers gathered again at the downtown spot where they hatched their plans: the historic adobe church known as Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church.
..."There's no doubt that the march changed everything," said Jesse Diaz Jr., a UC Riverside graduate student who was one of the 2005 march's planners. "It engraved in the minds of the people the power they have."
...Los Angeles deejay Eddie Sotelo, better known to listeners as El Piolin or Tweety Bird, played a key role in promoting last year's march with his popular Spanish-language radio show...
"We have to keep the movement peaceful and stick together like we did last year," said Sotelo, who launched a campaign this week to collect 1 million letters in support of reforms that he said he would personally deliver to members of Congress after a cross-country tour later this year.
...The most noticeable tensions today remain between some local grass-roots groups and national organizations based in Washington. Organizations such as the National Immigration Forum and National Council of La Raza supported the Senate compromise bill last year offering partial legalization and a guest worker program, while many local groups denounced that position as a betrayal of immigrant interests.
Many grass-roots activists say they will settle for nothing less than full legalization of most undocumented immigrants and a program that gives new foreign workers equal wages and working conditions as Americans, along with a pathway to citizenship.
In addition, many local activists want to turn up the "street heat" with mass mobilizations, but some national organizations fear alienating the public and embarrassing the new Democratic majority in Congress, according to Nativo Lopez of the Mexican American Political Association in Los Angeles.
...(Jesse Diaz says:) "Our position is that nothing is better than something bad... The goal of the movement is full legalization for all undocumented immigrants. That's it. There's no compromise... And if the politicians are not supporting us, we'll hold them accountable."
About 10,000 people are expected Sunday at the Los Angeles Forum from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a teach-in about immigration reform and civic participation. The event will feature Latino entertainers, faith leaders, community activists and elected officials, including L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and video addresses by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
At 3:30 p.m., Cardinal Roger Mahony will celebrate a Mass for immigrant and labor rights at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Another group will gather at La Placita, officially called Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, about 11 a.m. and head to the Federal Building across the freeway to protest immigration raids.