Don Thompson, AP, April 27, 2006
SACRAMENTO — State senators on Thursday endorsed Monday’s boycott of schools, jobs and stores by illegal immigrants and their allies as supporters equated the protest with great social movements in American history.
By a 24-13 vote that split along party lines, the Senate approved a resolution that calls the one-day protest the Great American Boycott 2006 and describes it as an attempt to educate Americans “about the tremendous contribution immigrants make on a daily basis to our society and economy.”
“It’s one day . . . for immigrants to tell the country peacefully, ‘We matter . . . (we’re) not invisible,’“ said Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, the resolution’s chief author. She said immigrants make up a third of California’s labor force and a quarter of its residents.
Opponents said the nonbinding resolution was misleading because it failed to mention a goal of the boycott was pressuring Congress to legalize millions of undocumented people.
“It is a disingenuous effort to put the government of California on record supporting open borders,” said Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside.
The boycott, also called “A Day Without Immigrants,” grew out of huge pro-immigrant marches across the United States in recent weeks. Organizers are urging people to stay home from school and jobs and avoid spending money on Monday to demonstrate their importance to the U.S. economy.
Several senators equated the protest with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and other major events in American history.
Segregation was ended in part because of the public bus boycott by blacks in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, said Romero.
Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, likened the debate over immigrant rights to the fights over slavery, women’s suffrage, the internment of Japanese during World War II, and the Vietnam War.
America wouldn’t have been created without illegal action, said Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys. “They dumped a bunch of tea in Boston harbor, illegally. God bless them,” he said.