Washington The organizers of the Summit to launch Reform Immigration FOR America had expected about 350 folks to attend from reform groups throughout the country. At the last minute they were overwhelmed with twice as many registrants. We were sleeping four to a room piled up like cordwood. Excitement was in the air.
The first news was that Obama’s “summit” to plan for the reform had been pushed back from the 8th, immediately following this kickoff, to the 17th or so. Some of my companeros feared the worst, but Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Chicago put the best spin on it in his speech to the opening plenary when he said that gave all of us more time to organize, and frankly despite the enthusiasm, we may need every minute to be ready.
There were battle scarred warriors from the last fight a couple of years ago within the beltway for immigration reform and there were large delegations from some important states like Florida and Arizona, and season leaders from groups like ACORN with a long history of putting pressure on vulnerable and recalcitrant elected officials, but many of these groups were veterans of hard fights locally without much experience on the national scene. Even on the eve of the battle, some of the lines were still not drawn with boots on the ground in key districts and states to put the pressure on for reform.
Ready or not, here we come seemed to be the motto, and this was a crowd with spirit and grit that made us all believe se si puede, but time was short so I hoped we were moving quickly with full readiness for the war of the knives over the coming months not just on Capitol Hill, but back home where they can feel the edge.
We applauded when the lightening stuck and the thunder roared to the speaker’s cadence outside of the tent where we were meeting, but it was also hard not to wonder if we were also hearing a warning from the gods as well.