Submitted by Andrea Perreault

On October 6th, ESB hosted Dr. Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American Studies at Salem State College, for a lecture and discussion on the topic “Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal” (the title of her new book to be published by Beacon press in May of 20124). Although efforts to bring important issues to our members and friends are topical, none could have been so timely coordinated with current events. On the prior Thursday, Aviva Chomsky and her father, Noam Chomsky were featured in a Boston Globe article (appearing in both the North and West editions) about their successful efforts to assist a young woman and her 3-year old son to stay in the United States. Although Mariola Perez has been granted a stay of her deportation for only one year, this is a success story. In her talk, Chomsky recounted the ordeal of the situation that Mariola confronted, and how she and her father provided support to a woman and child who have become virtual family members. Learn the details of the story in the article that can be found on-line in Boston Globe archives, or at http://www.beaconbroadside.com/broadside/aviva-chomsky/. To contribute to Mariola Perez’ legal expenses, Chomsky urges you to do so by sending a contribution to Mariola Perez, 14 Shore Ave., Salem, MA 01970, note “legal expenses” on your check.

A particularly moving part of Avi’s presentation was her very personal reaction to the song rendered by our musician, Suzy Giroux. Suzy chose to sing “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” (also called “Deportee”) by Woody Guthrie, and we all joined in on the chorus. The song gave Chomsky the opportunity to discuss her experiences teaching about Woody Guthrie, and about hearing that song on a trip to the Mexican border that she had led to help her students learn first-hand about immigrant experiences. (A newly released 6-CD volume of Woody Guthrie’s music is available through Rounder records.)

Timing was also significant in that the day before the talk, an organized march and rally to support immigration reform was held across the country. In Boston, about 800 people marched from Copley Square on Boylston Street to the Boston Common where the rally took place. Dominican, Mexican, Haitian, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Russian, Polish residents of Massachusetts and their supporters gathered on a beautiful fall day to communicate the needs of people to see change occur now. Legislation has been introduced in Congress, but with the current gridlock in Washington, it is doubtful it might be enacted soon. The Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Coalition (MIRA) and many labor groups sponsored the march. If you wish to learn more about immigrant issues in Massachusetts, go to http://miracoalition.org.

Aviva Chomsky has agreed to meet with us again after publication of her new book. We can’t wait!