Chapter 10: "Si Se Puede!"1Chicana/o Activism in San Diego 1965-2000
13. What did Chicanos do to protest immigration policies in the 1990s?
In February 1993 Roberto Martinez joined with the other leaders of Latino community organizations from throughout California to devise a statewide strategy against "
immigrant bashing." They founded a new statewide organization, the Latino Civil Rights Action Network, for the purposes of keeping community organizations informed about immigration issues, announced its intent to oppose tighter border control, and called for picketing and protests against Governor Wilson, State Treasurer Kathleen Brown and United States Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The creation of the coalition and the other actions were intended to assist immigrant-rights advocates develop "
a stronger and more consistent effort throughout the state," and "
set the groundwork" for a "
massive campaign" against the initiatives that anti-immigrant forces were seeking to place on the ballot.
Martinez and other activists also continued to question the alleged high costs for public services associated with undocumented immigrants in California. In May, after Governor Wilson filed a lawsuit against the federal government in order to secure reimbursement for the costs of services to undocumented immigrants, Martinez denounced the action and called for new leadership and exhorted fellow Latina/os to action against an anti-immigrant initiative, Proposition 187, that was being championed by Governor Pete Wilson in his re-election campaign.
Martinez’s activism was complemented by an act of creative defiance. Joaquin McWhinney, the founder and lead singer for the local reggae band Big Mountain, wrote and began to perform a song entitled "
Border Town." McWhinney challenged the tourist industry promoted-image of San Diego as "
paradise," the demonization of immigrants and the seemingly growing efforts to draw distinctions among the Mexican origin population on the basis of citizenship in some circles.
Sí, se puede" is Spanish for "
Yes, it is possible" or, roughly, "
Yes, it can be done."