IMMIGRANT RIGHTS AT THE U.S. SOCIAL FORUM
Atlanta, GA - Friday, 6/29/97.- The U.S. Social Forum is in progress with workshops, presentations and plennaries that cover almost all areas of struggle in this attempt to build "another world." The small Boston May Day Coalition has been present in as many migrant workers workshops as humanly possible. The concept of "migrant worker" is not popular in the forum. Most of the events are labeled "immigrant rights".
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) organized an immigrant rights caucus. NNIRR and their closer associates that became the core of this caucus have provided for a physical space located right next to the entrance of the Civic Convention Center where all plenaries take place. This has been a positive initiative and we have made it our responsibility to attend every day at 5:30pm, by the end of the day, to participate of what they called "debriefing sessions" and, more importantly, a place to write up a resolution from activists working on migrant workers struggles.
The majority of those we have heard came out with positions againts the guest worker program and border militarization compromise that was self-aborted in the Senate yesterday. Carlos Chacon from Centro Present was one of the speakers at the press conference in the immigration tent yesterday and he made an impassioned call to oppose the Senate compromise. At the time of the conference it was not yet known that the bill had been defeated.
Yesterday we attended the following workshops:
- Forging a Grand Coalition: Opportunities and Challenges of a Black-Brown Alliance by the Midwest Social Forum
- Migrant Families United Without Borders by Southwest Workers Union, which included Javier Rodriguez of the March 25th Coalition of Los Angeles among the panelists.
- Stop the Worksite Raids! Responses to ICE's Worksite Enforcement by Jobs With Justice
- Using Human Rights Strategies to Advocate for Undocumented Workers in the Domestic and International Arena, by the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Program and Women's Rights.
We were not able to speak in all the workshops and have not yet deployed the petitions for a moratorium on raids and for the U.S. to sign the U.N. Convention on Migrant Workers Rights. We will attempt to do so today. The ACLU workshop allowed us to make the connection about the need to internationalize the struggle and to characterize not only as an issue of immigration but mainly as one of migrant workers rights and of human rights violations.
The attendance is as expected, about 10,000 people. It is not difficult to find people from Massachusetts in the forum, and hopefully we will be able to organize a report-back of the different activities delegates from Mass. participated in.
The main stage for the plenaries is magnificent and up to this point very few changes to the program have taken place. The logistics is good and that helps although the time between workshops is only 30 minutes and when they are in different addresses, it is hard to make it on time.