Last night was likely one of my final books events for awhile, held in Washington, D.C. at Busboys and Poets. Within a few weeks I’ll be a father, which means…well, I still don’t have too much of an idea of what that means. Based on conversations I’ve had with other new parents, it seems likely that this little boy might be making some demands on us. So I’ve stopped scheduling book events, in the unlikely event that a new baby could in some way infringe on my typical schedule of doing whatever I want.
So it was great to have so much fun yesterday at Busboys and Poets. Family and friends were in attendance, and there was also a recent college graduate, Art, who is actually from Russellville! That totally blew me away, and I was suddenly glad that I had gone the informal route and discarded my collared shirt for the Russellville “Golden Tigers” t-shirt. It turns out that his father had read an article in the local paper in 2008, which wrote about my firing from the plant after management realized what I was doing, and passed the piece along. Someday, when funds and time permit, I’d love to go back to Russellville, but at least in this case a small part of Russellville came to me.
I also learned yesterday about future plans for immigration reform actions, and that an expected 10,000-person march through Los Angeles on Saturday grew to 65,000. On April 10 there will be a series of actions across the country–from New York to Las Vegas to Seattle–which I’ll definitely keep writing about as things progress.
Also, I wanted to acknowledge that while there has been much excitement about the energy around immigration reform, many people on the left have been critical of key components of the legislation being drafted by Schumer and Graham. I, too, have my problems about it, as I wrote in The Nation:
Remaining vigilant is also a task for advocates who are dissatisfied with the proposed reform framework and oppose the inclusion of an expanded guest-worker program prone to labor abuses and the introduction of nefarious-sounding measures like the “biometric Social Security cards” recently praised by Senators Lindsey Graham and Charles Schumer in the Washington Post. And beyond specific policy improvements, progressives need to push back against language in the debate that tends to paint undocumented immigrants as guilty of anything but attempting to improve their lot. As Graham and Schumer wrote in the Post about their proposed legislation, undocumented immigrants “would be required to admit they broke the law and to pay their debt to society.” There’s another case to be made: we owe a debt to them.
I’ve been mostly quiet about my reservations about the bill, especially because it’s early and right now the energy on the ground is high. But I do think it’s worth mentioning that if we’re lucky enough to keep the momentum up, one role for progressives/radicals will be to do what we can to make the bill as humane as possible.
Finally, two groups that cosponsored the book talk yesterday were CISPES and Jobs with Justice, DC. They are both doing fabulous work, from organizing workers here in the US to addressing unjust trade policies that push so many folks from their home countries. Check them out below–and give money if you can!
Jobs with Justice, DC: http://www.dcjwj.org/