May 1st 2009: Austin TX
"Obama escucha. Estamos en la lucha."
I marched on May 1st and didn't catch swine flu.
As the swine flu scare gives nativists a new "close the border" drum to bang on us more sensible people got together and rallied for human rights. Here in Austin we gathered at the state capital building. After a short presentation we marched down Congress Ave. and back up to City Hall. Many held signs that said "pass the DREAM Act" and a group of students dressed up in their grad gowns chanting "What do we want? The DREAM Act. When do we want it? Now!"
Other signs asked to stop the raids and to shut down T Don Hutto. At one point in the rally I was handed a hand-made sign that read "If any are illegal we all are."
Some of the memorable statement I heard from speakers were:
"More than anything else what we want to do today is to make all of us visible. Many times those of us who are immigrants and those of us who are alive with immigrant communities are forgotten, marginalized, ghettoized, and in other ways pushed out of the mainstream of U.S. society. It's time that we become visible. That the contributions that the immigrant communities make to this country become visible, valued; and the rights that we earn because of our value, because of being humans in society be respected."
Professor Eric Tang told the crowd that we have to understand that what happens to immigrants is not just an immigrant issue; it's an issue for all of us. He reminded us that we have to understand the same prison system that profits off of minority citizens is profiting off of undocumented immigrants. Facilities like T Don Hutto, just outside of Austin, are profiting from the influx of people looking seeking a better life. He also reminded us that this detention system was designed long ago to keep out Asian immigrants.
After a few other speakers rallied the crowd we began our march down Congress. At first I wasn't sure how the Austin crowd would compare to the New York crowd, but they were just as lively and loud. It was a good time and I'm looking forward to getting more involved here in Austin and, of course, for next year's May Day march. I hope by then we'll have something to celebrate: The DREAM Act and the closure of T Don Hutto.
This rally did energize demonstrated that Austin cares about human rights, but as I walked through the capital to get back to my car I had a sobering moment. A group of six white college-aged guy that looked like football players was approaching me. One of them, seeing my sign, said "f&*%ing immigrants." It makes me sad to think that mentality is still so prevalent. Keep up the fight!