The start of a new era? : examining the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC) and experiences of Latinas
Through fifty-three in-depth interviews with activists, community members, immigrants, students, and allies, this dissertation research explores the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition (AIRC), a nonprofit immigrant rights organization in Austin, Texas that formed as a response to the Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437) in the spring of 2006. Three layers of questions guide this research: (1) How did AIRC emerge from the established organizations and activist networks in Austin, Texas? (2) What did AIRC do after the 2006 marches and what is its relationship with organizations in Austin? (3) What are the different ways AIRC has attempted to mobilize Latino(a) and pro-immigrant activism?
My dissertation demonstrates that the 2006 mobilizations in Austin, Texas were part of a concerted effort by non-profit organizations, grassroots groups, activists, allies, and college and high school students. Amongst these many active participants, Latinas took a lead. The prominence of the work of similar coalitions throughout the U.S. during La Primavera Latina of 2006 and the lack of prominent male leadership suggests that across the nation, as in Austin, a new type of organizational lead is emerging in the Immigrant Rights Movement (Ramírez Perales-Ramos, Arellano 2010). The 2006 mobilizations reveal a different type of leadership, not an absence of one. In Austin, Latinas took on various leadership roles to move the AIRC forward during and beyond the 2006 marches. This dissertation explores the significance of new leadership, a process approach to leadership which I term “doing leadership.” The four processes of doing leadership embody shared leadership, leadership that serves the community, leadership that leads by obeying, and leadership unfolds behind the scenes.