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Movement announces May 1 actions for immigrant rights

Published Mar 22, 2007 10:31 PM

The National May 1st Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on March 15 to announce plans for “A Day Of No Work, No Shopping, No School, No Economic Activity.” May 1 will be what the May 1st Movement has dubbed “The Great American Boycott II.”

Bishop Felipe C. Teixeira speaks to the press
March 15.
WW photo: Heather Cottin

At the news conference, labor activists, leaders of immigrant-rights groups, anti-war organizers, African American leaders, and representatives of [email protected] and LGBT organizations called for an end to the terrorist attacks, raids and deportations against immigrants nationwide. The press conference was organized and chaired by Teresa Gutierrez, a leading representative of the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant Rights based in New York.

Bishop Felipe C. Teixeira of the Immigration Pastoral Center in Massachusetts said that the recent anti-immigrant raids in that state had shown “the face of racism and discrimination. No human being is illegal.”

Teixeira spoke of the children’s cries after the Nazi-like raids by Immigration Custom Enforcement, who hauled away women workers in New Bedford, Mass. The bishop said the number of children left motherless was much greater than the news media reported. He called for a bigger May 1 protest, saying, “Together, united, we can defeat the imperialism of the USA.”

Emma Lozano of the Chicago immigration-rights group Centro Sin Fronteras, which supports the right of sanctuary for Elvira Arellano, urged immigrants to use their economic power. “They don’t question us when we spend our money. They question our right to work,” she said.

“We will hurt them in their pockets,” Lozano continued. “This country has exploited undocumented labor for over a century and grown rich off of it. We are not asking for anything. We are demanding our rights.”

Organizing for the Great American Boycott II is intensifying all over the country in the face of growing ruling-class hostility toward immigrant workers. Homeland Security has deported over 200,000 people in the last year. Thousands of immigrant parents and children are in jail.

The National May 1st Movement for Worker and Immigrant Rights, whose formation was announced at a Feb. 4 press conference in Los Angeles, has mounted a counterattack against this racist policy, focusing on the May 1 mobilization.

Those who participated in the massive marches in the spring of 2006—which were victorious in defeating HR 4437, the Sensenbrenner bill—are gearing up for another nationwide strike to stop the vicious attacks against immigrants.

At the March 15 news conference, Boston school-bus driver union leader Steve Gillis said all workers are hurt by government policies that divide U.S. and foreign-born workers. “The government is working with capital to break unions and lower wages.”

Representatives from the Food and Commercial Workers, which represents the workers at the Smithfield, N.C., hog processing plant hit with anti-immigrant raids in December, expressed full support for the boycott.

Debanuj Dasgupta of Queers for Economic Justice spoke on the devastating impact of anti-immigrant attacks on over 1 million lesbian/gay/bi/trans people without documents.

John Parker, an African-American leader in the March 25th Movement in Los Angeles, called for “Black and Brown unity,” and spoke about how centuries of exploitation and oppression unite Black people and immigrants of color.

Troops Out Now Coalition leader LeiLani Dowell spoke of the war abroad and the war at home, calling on anti-war activists to support the May 1 action.

Day laborers from Freehold, N.J., and Freeport, Long Island, N.Y., spoke of their right to work unmolested, saying, “We are not criminals.”

Javier Rodriguez, member of the National May 1 Coordinating Committee, said that “Mass demonstrations are scheduled for May 1 in cities across the country including: Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York City, San Antonio, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Providence, R.I., Elizabeth, N.J., Hempstead, N.Y., and many other locations. This broad participation is an indication of the growing unity among U.S.- and foreign-born workers.” This unity is against a common enemy: the U.S. government and the bosses.

May 1 events in solidarity with immigrants in the United States have also been called by the workers’ movements in Venezuela, Mexico and the Philippines.