Two members of the Minuteman Project attended an “Emergency immigration meeting” in San Bernardino coordinated by Armando Navarro of the National Alliance for Human Rights.
The reason for calling this meeting, according to NAHR, is that “Mexicano and Latino efforts to push for a comprehensive humane immigration reform at this time lack the requisite mobilization power to influence the now Democratic controlled Congress.”
The announcement for the meeting said, “Time is ticking and so if we are to be successful in pressuring the Democrats and Bush Administration to act on immigration reform, as a community must act now.
We need to ignite the fires of activism that produced last year’s historically unprecedented marches and mobilizations of millions of Mexicanos and Latinos.”
The meeting was held in a library meeting room and during introductions Minuteman Project National Spokesman Raymond Herrera and National Rally Coordinator Robin Hvidston said they were with the Minuteman Project. Navarro said even though he was barred from Minutemen meetings Herrera and Hvidston would be allowed to stay.
“He then made a comment about the Minutemen being racists,” Hvidston said. “I replied the Minutemen are multi-ethnic. He said if the Minutemen interrupted the meeting, he would have us removed. I said I was merely correcting his inaccurate statement.”
After referring to the Minutemen as racists, Navarro gave opening remarks. He talked about the recent ICE raids. Then the floor was open for comments. “I was astounded by the nonstop hate talk about ‘white’ people,” Hvidston said.
“There was talk of how poorly Latino children are doing in school. White people were blamed. Talk about raids at work sites by ICE. White people were blamed. Talk about not enough Hispanic school teachers. White people were blamed. Talk about imprisonment of Latinos. White people were blamed,” Hvidston recounted.
“People stood up and gave testimonials about white people being the cause of poor education, prison sentences, police brutality. . .. They used slang such as ‘gavachos’ to refer to white people.”
One man named Victor said he had just gotten back from Washington, DC. He said the Mexican congress members, who were recently in Washington, were not treated right. He said the Hispanic Caucus needs to do more for Latinos. Most of all, he said Latinos are disturbed that the new Democratic congress is focusing on Iraq rather than immigration reform and this had better change.
Navarro is planning a march for March 17th in San Bernardino. He said they will be calling on cities such as L.A. to join them. He said if civil disobedience is needed to stop any future ICE raids, so be it. One man stated that if guns and violence are needed, they should use violence to overwhelm the white people. He encouraged the community to take what they want by overwhelming and overpowering force.
Robin Hvidston believes the group is nervous because they still do not have amnesty, even with a Democratic majority in Congress. Raymond Herrera stated at the meeting that Navarro’s leadership is much needed in Mexico, to fix Mexico. Raymond believes that there is a Mexican Revolution taking place, but that it should move down to Mexico where it can do the most good.
Also in attendance at this February 13 meeting in San Bernardino were three staff members from Congressman Joe Baca’s office. Baca represents California’s 43rd District and he is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. According to Hvidston, most of the attendees do not believe Baca is doing enough to help the Latino community. “They stated repeatedly, that in the ‘Inland Empire’ there are too many Republican congress members.”
The National Alliance for Human Rights describes itself as a network of leaders, activists, scholars and organizations committed to the promotion of human rights, social justice and political empowerment of the Latino community in the United States.