Immigrant Supporters To Counter Bush Speech

Washington Post/May 15, 2006/Darryl Fears/ link

Contrasts the more moderate We Are America Alliance with more militant groups such as the March 25 Coalition which claims to be closer to the people. Says that WAAA is composed of "41 immigrant resource groups, unions, churches, day laborers and Spanish-language disc jockeys". Says that the "immigrant community" had a "planned response on Spanish-language radio" to Bush's speech of that evening.

Says that WAAA planned a "day of civil action" on Wednesday, May 17 2006 including "demonstrations at the White House and on Capitol Hill, and the launch of a nationwide voter registration campaign at churches and nonprofit organizations that hopes to sign up a million new voters among legal residents."

Provides a quote that Juan Carlos Ruiz, general coordinator of the National Capital Immigration Coalition made "over the weekend", but doesn't provide more context.

Quotes Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change (which helps fund and organize activities for immigrant groups) as saying: "We are absolutely prepared to try to bring this thing down if it heads in the wrong direction."

Says that some Latino activists, particularly in Southern California favor boycotts and more forceful action instead of the compromise stance of WAAA.

Quotes Eun Sook Lee, director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium as suggesting that the more militant groups would have trouble reaching out to those who don't speak Spanish.

"When the dust settles, we will see who the leaders are," said Jesse Diaz, an original leader of the March 25 Coalition that inspired the Los Angeles march, which put the immigrant movement on the map. He said that while 'mainstream immigrant organizations were "complacently ignoring what was happening in Washington" last December, his coalition diverted its fight with the Minutemen in California and Arizona to organize protests against House legislation that would criminalize illegal immigrants and those who help them.

"Where were they then?" Diaz asked of the National Capital Immigrant Coalition, the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, the National Council of La Raza, the Central American Resource Center, the Service Employees International Union, Catholic churches and other groups that make up the alliance. "Where were the cardinals? Where were the unions? They were complacent and let that repressive bill pass."

Last week, Diaz showed his disdain for people who once were his allies. He walked into a small meeting room in the Rayburn Building and did not acknowledge Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. The two played key roles in organizing the big Los Angeles march but are not on speaking terms now.

...Despite Diaz's reservations, the We Are America Alliance is a 'formidable ensemble of immigrants rights groups. The coalition took shape around nationwide conference calls that started in February and continue today. Salas said national organizations such as the New American Opportunity Campaign and the Center for Community Change in Washington would call, sometimes at 6 a.m., and she would brainstorm with other activists...