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Vol. 72/No. 11      March 17, 2008

Workers plan May Day actions for legalization
(front page)
CHICAGO, March 2—In response to continuing raids and deportations, firings, and other attacks against undocumented immigrants, workers in several states are already making plans for marches and protests on May 1, 2008.

“On March 10, 2006, Chicago started the struggle of the immigrant community against the intent to be criminalized,” states a flyer for a March 8-9 Midwest Convention in Defense of Immigrant Rights. “In 2008 we are being treated as criminals.” The conference will map out plans for a regional demonstration on May Day in downtown Chicago.

On February 25, 70 workers at the Proex packaging plant in Batavia, Illinois, walked off the job to protest the firing of 10 of their coworkers for supposed problems with their Social Security numbers. Back on the job now, workers are pressing for the reinstatement of the 10, who worked at the plant for between 5 and 15 years.

In the Chicago area 632 people have been arrested in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweeps targeting “fugitive aliens” since October, according to local ICE spokesperson Gail Montenegro. Some 30,408 people were arrested nationwide in the past year, and ICE officials admit that 40 percent of those caught up in the sweeps had no outstanding warrants against them. They call these “collateral” arrests.

Anti-immigrant laws enacted in Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and other states and cities have provoked protests, including a February 6 rally of 3,000 in Danbury, Connecticut, to protest a City Council measure allowing local police to work with ICE authorities to enforce immigration law. In Indiana, workers are fighting anti-immigrant measures that have now passed both houses of the state legislature.

“People are being deported, and hundreds of workers are losing their jobs because of no-match letters,” said Rosi Carrasco, an organizer of the Chicago conference and member of the Latino Organization of the Southwest. “We have families being divided and children left without their parents.”

“Two years ago on May 1 we marched against criminalization. Last year we marched to stop the deportations. This year we need to take to the streets again for legalization for all, for human rights for all immigrants,” she said.

Organizing efforts are underway for May Day demonstrations in Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country.

On May 1, 2007, nearly 400,000 people poured into the streets of cities and towns across the United States to demand legal status for undocumented immigrants. These working-class demonstrations drew on the political impact of May Day 2006, when 2 million people mobilized demanding legalization of all immigrants. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands skipped work that day, making it the first nationwide political strike in U.S. history.
Related articles:
Immigrants in Maryland protest proposed bills  
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