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Will Latino Teen Lobby Group Send the Right Message to Congress when Asking to Stop Immigration Raids?

LatinaLista — It was only a matter of time.

It was only a matter of time before some in the Latino community would feel that they had to take a more public and vocal stance against the wave of immigrant deportations sweeping the country that are breaking up families, imprisoning children, and spearheading fear and intimidation in Latino-dominant communities across the nation.

Some of us expected a stronger effort to be led by LULAC or the National Council of La Raza. Yet, probably because of the political sensitivity of the issue these major organizations have held back – preferring to wait Congress out and issuing only press releases and holding court with press conferences.

Yet, one demographic that is notorius for their impatience and their passion and their idealistic views that justice can prevail when people realize that injustice is being committed, decided to lead the charge this time around — Latino teens.

To be specific, it’s a group calling themselves El Zocalo Urbano.

This group comprised of high school and college Latino youth from the Chicago area have formed a lobby and plan to descend on the steps of Congress in Washington on March 15 to ask Congressional leaders to put a moratorium on any more raids and deportations.

These young people, many of whom are from the Pilsen area of Chicago, are witnessing firsthand the impact of the immigration raids. They’ve either heard the stories or witnessed the ICE agents arrive before dawn to take away parents while it’s still dark.

It was only a matter of time before these young people decided to do something, but what is troubling to some of us is that these young people might not have formed at this moment in time if it weren’t for the efforts of an immigration rights group called Centro Sin Fronteras.

Where politics can sometimes handcuff adults into “playing by the rules,” it doesn’t hold the same restraints on young people.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that grass roots organizers of immigration rights groups have learned a valuable lesson in that the voices of children sometimes ring the loudest.

But as we saw with the spring rallies when thousands of Latino students left their classrooms to march in solidarity with their communities, good intentions can sometimes backfire and hurt a cause instead of helping it.

As of now, El Zocalo Urbano, number about 50, but they’re hoping that the sympathizers and supporters who are continually growing with the help of a MySpace site will quadruple their numbers by the time they reach DC.

And that would not be bad, but what would be bad is if we had young people who didn’t respect the seat of this nation’s government or the democracy that enables them the right to march, speak out and demand change.

The last thing anyone of us in the community-at-large wants to see is a repeat of last spring’s marches when Mexican flags were flown, young people were using rude gestures and foul language to get attention.

And that’s the kind of attention nobody wants.

El Zocalo Urbano can achieve many good things with this trip: greater awareness of what these deportations are doing to their local communities, putting faces to what have only been random names and statistics in the media and the opportunity to meet with Congressional leaders to personally plead the case.

El Zocalo Urbano and the other young people who will join them need to show Congress they mean business, and what better way than dressing in your best suits and dresses and project the most professional manner possible.

It’s a lot harder to be dismissed when you dress like you mean business.

Maybe then Congress can take a lesson from our young people and start the process themselves.

It would be about time.

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