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Vol. 81/No. 16      April 24, 2017


Join May Day protests! Demand amnesty for immigrant workers!

NEW YORK — May Day actions this year to demand an end to deportations and for amnesty for all undocumented workers in the U.S. will be the largest in years. Marches, rallies and strikes are planned in dozens of cities and towns from coast to coast, many with official labor union involvement.

“An injury to one is an injury to all,” Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813, told an April 3 press conference announcing the May 1 rally here at Foley Square. The 5 p.m. rally is being organized by a coalition of labor, immigrant and religious organizations. There will be a number of other actions around the city starting at 6:30 a.m.

“This is the first time our local has played a major role in a May Day protest,” Campbell told the Militant by phone. “We want as many people as possible to come out and see more of these actions take place.”

“We believe that workers’ rights and immigrant rights go hand in hand,” Héctor Figueroa, president of SEIU 32BJ, told the press. Local 32BJ scored a victory when Immigration and Customs Enforcement released electrician Juan Vivares, an undocumented worker from Colombia, from custody. Vivares is married to Yahaira Burgos, a building porter, U.S. citizen and member of the union. When the union learned Vivares had been detained during a regular check in with ICE, it organized a protest outside the immigration jail where he was being held.

Deportations are increasingly unpopular among workers born in the U.S. The longer workers live, work and join together in fights against attacks from the employers, the more it breaks down barriers between them.

Edison Alvarado, a worker at Tom Cat Bakery here, encouraged others to go on strike May Day. Alvarado is one of 31 workers at the Long Island City bakery who are fighting plans by the company to fire them following an ICE I-9 audit that began during the Obama administration. The workers received a letter March 15 giving them 10 days to produce proof that they had work permits. After protests outside the bakery, Tom Cat extended the deadline to April 21.

In another victory, Guyanese immigrant Ramesh Palandiandi was released from ICE detention April 7. Although he has a green card and is married to a U.S. citizen, ICE claimed he was deportable because of a non-violent felony conviction in 2007 for which he served six months in jail.

Several marches are planned in Los Angeles that will converge at Los Angeles City Hall. “I am marching on May Day to participate in sending a clear message: Immigrant workers in America will never give up on our struggle to win dignity, respect and justice,” Lydia Flores, a supermarket cashier and member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 told a Los Angeles press conference March 21.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has made demagogic statements scapegoating undocumented workers, claiming they take “American” jobs and are a threat to national security.

But for the most part Trump has extended policies implemented by Barack Obama, including immigration sweeps that supposedly target undocumented workers who have done jail time, I-9 audits that force the firings of workers without papers, and beefing up the border patrol.

In 2006 legislation was introduced in Congress that would have made presence by anyone without papers in the U.S. a felony. It went down to defeat when immigrant workers led a wave of protests that culminated on May 1 with millions going on strike and marching in the street.
Related articles:
May Day Protests Calendar
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