Magon: A Familiar Scene in Bakersfield

August 19, 2013 /


Immigration reform activists from throughout the state gathered in Bakersfield last week. Photo: JESUS E. VALENZUELA FELIX

Immigration reform activists from throughout California demonstrated in Bakersfield last week. Photo: JESUS E. VALENZUELA FELIX


The Diary of Joaquín Magón Entry 25: A Familiar Scene in Bakersfield


Bakersfield, CA –The movement for immigration reform brought over 1,000 supporters to Bakersfield last week to put public pressure on House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy – the new “whipping boy” on immigration as Politico newspaper has so dubbed him.

We gathered in Bakersfield to send a clear message – The United States deserves a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship. If House leaders, including McCarthy, scheduled a vote on reform with a new roadmap to citizenship, we would have enough of a bipartisan majority in the House to vote for it. Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and McCarthy must allow democracy to flourish in the House and allow a vote.

Even diehards like McCarthy will change their vote if we show enough support. Granted, McCarthy wasn’t even in the country for the event but did put out a statement.

It’s simple mathematics. “If I vote this way who will vote against me? Are they strong enough to get me out of power? No? Ok good – there aren’t enough registered voters of that population to pose a threat.”

I looked into the crowd in Bakersfield and felt like I’ve been there before. I remember Coachella, I remember the walk outs; I remember Los Angeles on March 25, 2006 when close to a million people covered the streets; I remember watching the opposition forming their Minute Men; I remember the students getting arrested putting all our excuses to shame; I remember the DREAM Act and AgJobs and the division that it spurred inside our own movement; and I look at how S. 744 almost by design has been created to encourage that division again – a category mirroring the DREAM Act, a category Mirroring AgJobs, and the General Population getting a 10 year wait. I can almost imagine the ones that wrote the bill thinking, Go on, fight amongst yourselves again.  

Which brings us here. To the middle of a battle that feels like the beginning. I listen to the opposition talk about themselves as if they are the chosen children of a country where immigration ended with them and that they are the native children of the sun.

We all have an immigrant story in this country. My own history doesn’t only start in México. It goes back centuries through indigenous souls from the Sierras of Sinaloa that mixed with the mining towns of German immigrants that brought us polka music and around five or six red hairs on my beard and freckles on my cheeks to demonstrate that no matter how recessive those genes are they are there to prove that, who knows how many years ago, some German or Irish man or woman became part of my history.

Which is what makes this movement for immigration reform so personal and at the same time so sociological. We must dissect to understand our histories and to understand each other.

In this series, beginning with this piece, I hope to share some of the stories of the students, the farm workers, and all people.

I will begin with my own, later this week.


“The Diary of Joaquín Magón” is written by Jesús E. Valenzuela Félix, a reporter from Coachella living in Salinas and working for the United Farm Workers Foundation. He contributes regularly to Coachella Unincorporated

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