After roughly 40 student protesters marched earlier in the day to support immigration rights, the Associated Students Legislative Council passed a resolution last night allowing A.S. staff to miss work on Monday, May 1, in support of the “Great American Boycott.”
With turnout expected to be in the tens of thousands, the Great American Boycott will feature nationwide rallies supporting immigrants’ rights. The A.S. resolution strongly recommends that A.S. staff miss work that day and partake in immigration reform bill rallies or spend the day researching the issue.
The resolution, which passed with 14 members in favor and three opposed, also included a section declaring that staff members who miss work should not be penalized.
During yesterday’s rally, students held drums and chanted, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop,” and, “What do we want? Immigration rights. When do we want it? Now.” Protesters marched around Storke Plaza, stood and gave speeches in front of Storke Tower’s north side, walked through the Arbor and ended at UCSB’s eternal flame.
An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people are expected to gather in downtown Santa Barbara on May 1 in support of immigrants’ rights. The Great American Boycott will offer informational workshops at Ortega Park at 1:30 p.m., followed by a rally at 3:30 p.m. at Sunken Gardens at 1100 Anacapa St.
According to a flier passed out at the protest, some students will be holding a picket line, rally and teach-ins in front of the Pardall bike tunnel May 1 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
While some Leggies argued that the resolution was a show of solidarity with the protest, other council members claimed it infringed on the political views of staff members.
In an interview after the meeting, Off-campus Rep. Robby Cousart said the council does not have the authority to make decisions for the staff.
“It’s an elitist approach for Legislative Council to impose our partisan beliefs on staff workers who work in our office,” Cousart said. “Leg Council should set an example of representing everyone’s views.”
However, Off-campus Rep. Amelia Holstrom said after the meeting that the resolution is solely a recommendation that provides staff the opportunity to participate in the protest.
“The reason why I wanted the resolution passed was because I think Legislative Council should take a stance,” Holstrom said. “We didn’t pass a mandate – we strongly recommended they don’t come to work.”
Some Leggies focused the debate on a previous form of a Congressional bill affecting U.S. immigration policy. The bill, HR 4437, was passed in the House of Representatives in December. Although the bill did not pass in the Senate, it would have increased border security and made it a felony for illegal immigrants to be in the U.S., as well as increased fines and sanctions against companies that employ illegal immigrants.
A few competing proposals are currently before Congress, such as the Hagel-Martinez compromise and the McCain-Kennedy bill. The latter mandates increased border control, but calls for the amnesty of all illegal immigrants currently in the country and suggests a guest worker program. Under the program, immigrants would be able to apply for a temporary work permit that allows immigrants to apply for citizenship after six years of employment.