This Week @ UCSD
divider
divider
divider
divider
divider
divider
divider
divider
divider
Top Stories Print this story Print Forward to a Friend Forward

Students Rally for Immigrant Rights

By Ioana Patringenaru | May 5, 2006

Students Rally for Immigrant Rights
About 100 students listened to speakers during a rally Tuesday in front of the Geisel Library.

Some skipped classes and work. Others worked then demonstrated later. A few campus businesses closed their doors. About 100 rallied for immigrant rights in front of Geisel Library.

UCSD students, faculty and staff took part last week in a national day of action in support of immigrant rights.

“We’re at a historical moment where this country is going to change for the better,” Jorge Mariscal, director of UCSD’s Chicano-Latino studies program, said Tuesday at a rally on campus.

Organizers of the nationwide day of action asked participants to skip work and school, and to refrain from buying. They also staged protests from coast to coast. More than 1.1 million people demonstrated nationwide, according to the Associated Press. Demonstrators voiced their opposition to an immigration reform proposal that the U.S. House of Representatives approved in December. The bill would make it a felony to enter the country illegally or to help anyone who does. For now, experts disagree about the protest’s impact.

“I think it did make enough of an impact to drive home the point that the economy depends on Latino labor,” said Mariscal.

UCSD economist Gordon Hanson said it was too early to tell whether the day of action had been effective. Its impact on UCSD also is unclear. 

The campus chapter of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, or MEChA, asked its members to stay home Monday. Faculty and staff made their own decisions about whether to take action that day, Mariscal said. He said attendance dropped significantly in the literature department where he teaches. In one of his classes, about 85 percent of students were absent. He added he received reports of low attendance in other courses, including science classes. A few staff members also stayed home, said Lourdes Felix, co-chair of the Chicano/Latino Staff Association.

Students Rally for Immigrant Rights
Students hold up home-made signs during a rallyTuesday in front of the Geisel Library.

Protesters were most visible on campus Tuesday, when they staged a rally on Library Walk. They chanted “Si, se puede,” meaning “yes, we can.” They shouted “Que Viva MEChA.” Some of them held placards that read “Immigrants are the backbone of America,” “We are not terrorists” and “Amnesty Now.” Many students wore brown T-shirts with “RAZA UCSD” printed in white letters on the front. “Raza” means “the people” when referring to the Latino community or working class people, Mariscal said. The color brown symbolizes the mixed race heritage of most U.S. Latinos and Latin Americans and harkens back to the 1960s Chicano Movement, also known as the Brown Power movement, he added.

At the rally, students heard from diverse speakers representing a wide range of campus organizations, including the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Alliance, the Black Student Union, Students for Economic Justice and Queer People of Color. They also heard from Mariscal. He told them about his family, his experiences as a Vietnam veteran and his commitment to immigrant rights.

“It’s not about legality,” he said. “It’s about who does the work, who builds this country.”

Unlike many of the students in the audience, Mariscal decided to come to work on Monday. As an educator, he said he felt his job was to be on campus that day. He talked about immigration with students who did show up to class. Then he went to an evening rally in Balboa Park.

Felix, the Chicano/Latino Staff Association co-chair, also came to work and planned to go to Balboa Park later. Instead, she stayed at her desk until 7:30 p.m., sifting through hundreds of e-mails that had accumulated while she was on vacation.

One of them moved her deeply, she said. It came from her colleague Mamie Gonzalez, who worked Sunday so she could stay home Monday.

“I have found racism to be very much alive in my own world and the standard of acceptance for it on the increase,” Gonzalez wrote. “It’s ugly.”

She went on to explain that someone recently broke into her daughter’s high school locker and emptied it. The culprit left behind a bean burrito, a reference to the derogatory term “beaner” sometimes used to label Latino students, Gonzalez wrote.

“While I do not know the solution, I do know that respect for all has worked well in my own life,” she also wrote. “So, by sharing my reasoning with you I hope you will understand my decision in support of the May 1st event.”

Students Rally for Immigrant Rights
A diverse crowd joined protesters during the Tuesday rally.

Student Lupe Bacio, a senior at Warren College, also stayed home. She spent the day studying and watching the news. She said she wanted to support all immigrants and the nationwide Latino “movimiento.” Tuesday, she took part in the rally in front of  Geisel Library. Asked about the different immigration reform proposals in Congress, she said she hopes lawmakers will come to a sensible agreement.

“There should be inclusive and fair immigration reform,” she said. “Also, everyone should realize and appreciate the work of immigrants.”

Also Monday, the Food Co-op in the Old Student Center and Groundwork Books were closed in solidarity with the national day of protest. Students at the Food Co-op didn’t stop there. They also decided to hand out free soup, turning capitalism on its head for the day. Muir sophomore Molly Parent greeted customers and explained they couldn’t buy anything at the store. Then she invited them to help themselves to free navy bean soup, veggie chili and potato corn chowder.

The Food Co-op is lucky to be able to support the causes, in which it believes, Parent said. The House proposal to criminalize illegal immigration would lead the U.S. away from its core values, she said.

“This country is about opportunity,” Parent said.

 

spacer
Subscribe Contact Us Got News UCSD News
spacer

UCSD University Communications

9500 Gilman Drive MC0938
La Jolla, CA 92093-0938
858-534-3120

Email: thisweek@ucsd.edu