When the lame duck ends, Chicago congressman Gutiérrez and his movement allies will ask for a divorce —from the Democratic Party, from the entire lawmaking process. To hear Gutiérrez tell it, Hispanic leaders are about to stage a full-tilt campaign of direct action, like the African-American civil-rights movement of the 1960s. There will be protests, marches, sit-ins —what César Chávez might have called going rogue. The movement will operate autonomously, no longer beholden to wavering Democrats, filibustering Republicans, and (perhaps most tantalizingly) no longer beholden to Barack Obama.
None of this is to say Latino voters have dumped Obama. “The honeymoon is not quite over,” says Fernand Amandi, the managing partner of the polling firm Bendixen & Amandi. A June Gallup poll showed Obama down more than 10 points among Hispanics. But as the midterms neared, the immigrant salvos of candidates like Jan Brewer and Sharron Angle made the president seem more appealing to Hispanic voters. If Obama had once looked like the hesitator-in-chief, next to Brewer and Angle he looked like César Chávez. Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Democrats.
This, then, is the dilemma for Hispanic leaders: They find themselves wedded to a president and a party that is their only conceivable hope to pass immigration reform. But the president and the party—because of the GOP, or because of internal priorities—could not pass immigration reform.
Which brings us to the divorce. “I haven’t thought this out completely,” Gutiérrez says in the church. Then he begins tentatively spelling out a plan to sever the immigration-reform movement from the Democrats.
“We need to decouple the movement for comprehensive immigration reform and justice for immigrants from the legislative process and from the Democratic Party process,” Gutiérrez says. “They are too linked.”
In the broad strokes, the kind of divide Gutiérrez is talking about is not only reminiscent of the African-American civil-rights movement, but the arms-length distance the Chicano Movement kept from the political establishment during most of its late-1960s heyday. Luis GutiÃ©rrez and Coming Latino Revolt - The Daily Beast