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Vol. 73/No. 10      March 16, 2009

Maryland rally demands
rights for immigrants
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland—Nearly 300 workers, students, and activists held a spirited evening rally at the State Capitol here February 23 to press demands to defend the rights of immigrants. Busloads of workers, mainly immigrants from various countries in Latin America, came from around the state. Among them were day laborers and construction workers deeply affected by the sharp decline in housing and other construction jobs. Casa de Maryland, the main immigrants rights organization in the area, organized the rally.

“People have tried to use ‘divide and conquer’ against us, but this fight is for all of us, just like Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on the bus was a fight for all of us,” Guy Djoken, president of the Frederick, Maryland, chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), told the crowd. “And if we stay together, we will win.” Djoken is originally from the West African country of Cameroon.

Many participants held signs that read, “Drivers’ licenses for safety.” This refers to the bill now before the Maryland General Assembly that would require applicants for state drivers’ licenses to prove they are legal U.S. residents. Maryland is one of four states that doesn’t require such proof, mandated under the federal Real ID law passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005 as a step toward a national identity card.

“We’re working with Casa to fight for in-state tuition,” explained Mabila Reyes, 23, a University of Maryland student who attended the rally with several others from her campus. Students who cannot prove permanent immigration status in Maryland are charged out-of-state tuition, even if they graduated from high school in the state.

Speakers at the rally also opposed other legislation targeting immigrant workers, including proposals to deny public benefits to all non-citizens, prohibit local communities from passing sanctuary protections, and require businesses to use the national E-Verify database to prove “eligibility” to work.
Related articles:
Arizona action fights cop immigration raids
Demands end to sheriff’s vigilante gangs
L.A. settlement reached for May Day ’07 cop riot
‘Attack on immigrants is threat to all workers’
UK strikes: blow to unity of working class
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