Preliminary numbers are rolling in via local news broadcasts throughout Los Angeles. The guru of the Los Angeles economy, Jack Kyser, of the Economic Development Corp., has been quoted on KCAL 9 news as saying that Monday's May 1st boycott has had an estimated 100 million dollar impact so far. He expects this figure to double to 200 million before the ripple effect finally plays itself out.
Still, 100 million is a relatively small figure in the overall Los Angeles County economy, where figures top well over a billion dollars daily. Also, the impact was felt mainly in industries with high immigrant participation such as construction, trucking, farming, and landscaping etc.
The loss of income to Latino families is estimated to be 25 million dollars for missing the day's work. What was gained in exchange, however, was an unprecedented show of unity throughout the nation by all Latinos, legal and undocumented alike. A networking of international activists, organizations and politicians committed to the defeat of House Bill HH4437 and to a path to full American citizenship for the undocumented was also established.
Now the task of transforming Monday's exuberance into sustained, long term political clout rests in the hands of Latino community leaders like Nativo Lopez of the Mexican American Political Association, Armando Navarro of the National Alliance for Human Rights and others.
Latino grass roots organizations are way ahead of the pack when it comes to initiative and leadership. Unrestrained by the political worries that hover over some politicians, they've done a phenomenal job.
Still, we must support Latino elected officials like Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu?ez and CA State Senators Gloria Romero and Gil Cedillo.
What is needed now, however, is to encourage and assist those immigrants who qualify for U.S. citizenship to apply for it as well as massive Latino voter registration drives, and more sustained brand name targeted boycotts like the one against all Kimberly-Clark products.
This is not the time to rest and gloat in victory. We've got to maintain the momentum and keep our eye on the prize, which is full citizenship for all the undocumented who are bolstering the American economy by paying into systems with little hope of ever collecting its benefits if their legal status remains the same. And for the children who are being robbed of a chance at higher education and the peace of mind that comes with laying down permanent roots in the only society they?ve come to know.
Virtual Chicano is political commentator and webmaster for ChicanoForums.com