Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Not a Big Deal Here

The Day Without Immigrants was observed here in Miami by a middling number of people, and more as a mild gesture of solidarity with immigrants — legal or otherwise — as opposed to a pressing issue worth rallying into the streets for.

The day was meant as a demonstration of immigrant power — with many foreign workers attending rallies and marches instead of tending the fields, building condos or learning grammar and math. But as the sun set on South Florida it was clear organizers’ goal of paralyzing cities did not materialize. Most area businesses stayed open and some immigrant communities remained torn about joining the boycott and rallies.

Several thousand — perhaps as many as 10,000 combined — attended rallies and events from Homestead to Miami to Fort Lauderdale, but those figures were low compared to previous protests by Cuban exiles. Some Cuban Americans attended the rallies, though legalization is not an issue for them because by law undocumented Cuban migrants get to stay in the United States if they reach land.

South Florida’s Caribbean community — Haitians and Jamaicans in particular — did not come out in force either, many viewing the May 1 rallies as a Mexican-generated idea that did not apply to them even though thousands of Caribbean people are living in the shadows.

It says a lot about certain segments of the immigrant community when the response is basically “Hey, I got a free pass so why should I care?” and “We’re not going to go out of our way to participate because we didn’t think of it first.”