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Vol. 72/No. 14      April 7, 2008

Inside the ring and out,
Van Nuys workers fight
effort to deport them
VAN NUYS, California, March 22—“This match is about defending our rights and an end to the immigration raids,” said the announcer today at the lucha libre (free fight), a Mexican-style wrestling event. The match was organized by workers at the Micro Solutions Enterprises plant here who were rounded up in an immigration raid in February. The 138 workers detained in the raid are fighting the government’s effort to deport them.

The main bout was between a masked wrestler, “Super Mojado” (Super Wetback—a racist term for Mexican immigrants) and his allies, who defeated “INS Man,” referring to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the former name for the immigration police.

“I’ve come to fight against discrimination and for immigrants of all ethnic backgrounds,” declared Super Mojado before the fight.

“You’re going back to Mexico!” yelled INS Man to a chorus of boos and angry shouts from the crowd of more than 300.

The Micro Solutions workers and their supporters have established a group, United Workers of Van Nuys, to organize their struggle. Van Nuys is the district in Los Angeles where the plant is located.

“We’re stuck,” explained Arturo, one of the workers facing deportation. “We can’t work but we have to pay rent, bills, and buy food.” Many workers detained have GPS tracking ankle bracelets bound to their leg to ensure they do not leave Los Angeles County. This makes getting another job almost impossible.

Ulises, a leader of the workers’ group, said the United Workers of Van Nuys will be marching in the March 29 annual César Chavez walk. “We’re going to march with shorts on to protest these apparatuses, and those of us that don’t have them will tie a cell phone to our ankles,” he said.

At the lucha libre, flyers were distributed to build the May 1 march and rally in Los Angeles for immigrant rights.

“The workers from Van Nuys have begun helping organize the action for May 1 and will be a very important contingent,” said Gloria Saucedo, of Hermandad Mexicana Nacional (Mexican National Brotherhood). “They’re an example because they’ve been detained but they’re organizing freely and openly against their deportation.”

May Day marches will begin in downtown Los Angeles and in MacArthur Park, where last year police rioted and assaulted peaceful demonstrators. Endorsers include the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the March 25th Coalition, Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, and others.

The United Workers of Van Nuys are organizing a rodeo April 6 to raise funds and win support. Their fight has received regular coverage in Hoy, La Opinion, the Los Angeles Times, and Spanish language radio shows. The Mexican consulate is contributing to the legal defense. Several Central American consulates are also getting involved.

“We’re organizing to fight so that we’re not deported,” said Flor, another leader of the United Workers. “But whether we stay or not we want to be an example to anyone who has this happen to them.”
Related articles:
Workers in Chicago: ‘All out on May Day!’
Wheatland Tube workers fight no-match firings
Workers across U.S. plan for May Day  
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