LatinaLista — A popular description of the Latino community during election season is to refer to the community as the “sleeping giant.”
The implication always understood to be that Latinos wield an untapped strength that can change the course of electoral outcomes. Unfortunately, it never fully materialized â€” but this time may be different and ahead of schedule.
This isn’t said out of wishful thinking to intimidate or threaten, but rather because there are finally signs that the community, at its most basic level, is getting mad and starting to (re)act.
It was reported that 20 Latino workers walked off the job this afternoon in Aurora, Illinois. They’re mad because they claim their employer, Ballco Manufacturing, is illegally firing workers for not providing proof for employment eligibility.
The company has already fired about 10 employees by Wednesday for failing to show forms of ID such as a passport, Social Security card or permanent resident card.
What’s making these striking workers mad is that by law the company has to verify their employment within three days of when they started working. These Hispanic workers all say they have worked at the company already a long time, some even 7 years, and that they showed the proper ID when they were first hired.
Critics will certainly doubt the eligibility of these workers to work legally in the United States but nobody knows the citizenship status of the workers.
But even if only one or two are citizens, this walk-out is a sign that Latinos, who are U.S. citizens, are getting tired of being subjected to the same attitudes and treatment meant to target the undocumented.
Whereas in the past, there was an indifferent acceptance by the community to live with things as they are, there are more and more signs that this is no longer the case.
You may wonder how can I surmise this from just one example. Well, I have another.
Today, a Latina Lista reader accepted my challenge to step up and address the Republican Party’s leadership in actions against Hispanics.
In part, his letter read:
Dear Representative Davies,
I write this with a sad and heavy heart, but I feel is is important that I share my view with you. I have voted Republican since 1988 and as a photographer have done local, state, and national level work for the Republican party. Today the political climate is different and as a Mexican American, I will no longer support any Republican cause.
Why? The hate and xenophobia directed at undocumented workers by republican politicians (illegal aliens as the right proudly calls them) and by extension to all Latinos born and raised in this country has driven me away. Much of the discourse coming out of the right is in no way endearing me to their causes. Just read any forum regarding immigration at any online newspaperâ€¦
For everyone who has ever waited for the sleeping giant to awaken, let it be known that it was never that it was asleep – it just wasn’t angry enough to open its eyes.
The tipping point has been reached.