Chicago rally for immmigrant rights draws 8,000
BY LISA POTASH
CHICAGO--Some 8,000 working people joined the March and Rally for a New Amnesty here September 23. "Si se puede" was the chant of the day at the rally for the millions of immigrant workers in the United States. Janitors, home health care workers, garment workers, and meat packers were among those at the action.
The confidence, unity, and working-class composition evident at the march were reflected in the banners and signs throughout the demonstration: "It's Time For Amnesty!" "Living Wage For All Workers," "Union Organizing Is A Human Right!" and "Amnesty Means Workers' Rights."
The demonstration was sponsored by the Grassroots Collaborative, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 880, ACORN, American Friends Service Committee, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the Interfaith Leadership Project, and others.
Many groups brought banners and signs such as United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, the Chinese American Service League, and the Midwest Asian American Center, which is made up of Indian and Pakistani immigrants. The Korean American Cultural and Resources Center provided a lively drum band, bringing a celebratory feeling to the march. Supporters of the Harkin Legal Defense Fund carried a banner in support of freedom for all Irish political prisoners held in U.S. jails and those fighting deportations. Several signs in Polish were evident. Some students, particularly from local colleges, also participated.
Among the workers who participated were about 160 on buses organized by the SEIU, as well as a dozen from an unorganized plastics factory in a Chicago suburb, and four garment workers employed at a large men's suit factory who are members of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE). Hundreds of home health care workers and janitors participated, including a noticeable number of Black workers.
The march was also aimed at building a nationally coordinated day of actions around the country on October 14, which includes a demonstration in Washington.
Lisa Potash is a sewing machine operator and member of UNITE in Chicago and the Socialist Workers candidate for U.S. Congress in the 5th District.