Saturday, May 1, 2010

Immigration Nation

I awoke to the feel-good, organ-pumpin' rhythms of the 125th St. Baptist Church in Harlem this morning. It's interesting to be in a neighborhood that still preserves some of the old ways as there are 3 churches bordering my friend Josh's apartment. Stepping off the plane from LA was reminder of how international New York is as  I heard French, German, Italian, Chinese and Spanish all before hopping on the subway to Harlem.

No sooner had I set off to explore than I found myself smack dab in the middle of the Immigration Day protest marching down Broadway. While there were plenty of Ecuadorians, Guatemalans, Colombians, and of course, Mexicans; I found it interesting that they were supported by several other U.S. ethnic minorities. Filipino, Indians (Desis from the Subcontinent), Native American and Muslim groups all marched in solidarity with their Latino counterparts, protesting the passage of Arizona's controversial immigration bill as well as Senator Schumer's (D-NY) immigration reforms including a new ID card proposal.
In addition to the interesting mixture of protesters, I found myself considering the Public Diplomacy implications of the hundreds of foreign tourists who viewed the protest and how the international audience (particularly those in Latin America) are interpreting the American public's reaction to these immigration reforms. The mere fact that a law put into place in Arizona can have such a huge impact (inter)nationally makes me realize how happy I am for those that can peacefully express their outrage and how much I hope that foreigners realize laws like Arizona's SB1070 do not represent the U.S. as a whole.

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