Immigrant Mobilization Project
In 2006 an interdisciplinary group of UIC faculty and advanced graduate students convened by LALS faculty Nilda Flores-Gonzalez and Amalia Pallares created the Immigrant Mobilization Project (IMP) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The IMP is a collaborative research endeavor designed to provide an in-depth and multidisciplinary analysis of the immigrant rights rallies in Chicago in 2006 and 2007, and more broadly, of the immigrant rights movement in the city and its relationship to the national movement. In focusing on Chicago as a case study, they aim to provide a more complete examination of the different types of organizations, institutions and social actors that have shaped the contemporary immigrant movement. Chicago has a longstanding and complex history of immigrant activism and it has been at the forefront of contemporary activism: it was the first city that held a massive march in 2006; it is a major center of hometown association national and international organizing (Chicago hometown association leaders organized the 2007 Morelia international immigrant conference); and hosts the first church to provide sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant facing deportation. It is therefore a microcosm of the immigrant activism that has enveloped the nation, and can therefore provide important lessons for the study of the immigrant movement as a whole. Relying on both the results of two surveys of marchers and extensive qualitative research, the IMP has focused on a variety of themes relevant to immigration and Latino studies: engaged citizenship and political participation of the undocumented and mixed-status families, emerging actors such as youth and hometown associations, the role of schools, media and the churches in immigrant activism, the effect of immigrant activism on Latino subjectivities, the discourse and impact of anti-immigrant groups, among others. They shared these results with the academic and activist community in a conference at UIC in February 2006. These studies will be published in the forthcoming book Marcha: Latino Chicago and the National Immigrant Movement, University of Illinois Press, 2009. Given the political and demographic relevance of the immigration issue (directly affecting 13 million undocumented and their families), and the unprecedented nature of this activism among a population that political scientists have traditionally considered disengaged, this book will provide some key insights into the causes leading to the movement, the formation of new Latino political subjectivities, and the public policy effects of Latino social movement activism.