Last Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pro Immigrant Groups Take to the Streets Again for May Day PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alex Garcia | Sun Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 01 May 2014 06:38

Photo Courtesy CHIRLA

Marches, call-a-thons and other actions are scheduled today, May 1, as pro immigrant groups keep pushing for an end to deportations and immigration reform.

“More than two million immigrant workers living in the U.S. have been uprooted from their communities and separated from their loved ones, all because Congress has failed to act on immigration reform,” stated Apolonio Morales, political director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), one of the groups along with unions and other pro immigrant groups that will hold a march in downtown Los Angeles.

“This will be no ordinary May Day in America. Congress must do the people’s will or we will select a Congress who does.”

The CHIRLA march — featuring supporters and members of many organizations including ACLU SoCal, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance/Los Angeles Chapter, LA County Federation of Labor/AFL-CIO and the CA Labor Federation — is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

The march will not follow its traditional route this year, but start instead at the Chinatown Dragon Gate, at the intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Broadway Street. Marchers will head to the Metropolitan Detention Center at the corner of Aliso and Alameda streets for a rally and demonstration starting at 12:30 p.m.

Gutierrez To Appear

This year’s event includes an appearance by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a recognized figure in the immigration debate in Washington, D.C.

“We are honored to be joined by a true community champion on May Day. Congressman Gutierrez will certainly add a spark of fire to our movement for immigration reform here in the Southland,” stated Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director.

May 1, also known as International Workers Day, is traditionally filled with marches and other events in favor of workers in many countries. Since 2006, however, pro immigrant groups have taken the day as their banner to push for legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants.

Jorge Mario Cabrera, spokesperson for CHIRLA, said they hope to “raise one voice in favor of justice that could bring change, even though is difficult.”

He said they expect to have “thousands of voices to bring down the barriers and help unite millions of families.”

Other representatives expressed similar motivation.

“This year, I’m marching on May Day because they are trying to deport one of my members who works hard every day to provide for his family. He recently spoke up against wage theft by his employer and days later, ICE was waiting at his doorstep. We need to fix a broken system,” said Cliff Smith, business manager of Roofers Local 36, in a statement on the AFL-CIO Los Angeles website.

Immigration Reform On Standby

This immigration marches this year take place as the debate in Washington is practically stalled and deportations reach all-time highs. Recently, pro immigrant groups declared that two million people have been deported under President Obama, the most under any presidential period.

Hope was raised last year that an immigration reform was near after the Senate approved a measure that would have legalized millions of undocumented currently living in the United States. But a similar measure was never brought to the floor of the House of Representatives for discussion. The measure has stalled there since then and with this year's congressional election in November, is very unlikely anything will happen before the summer recession in August.

Still, pro immigrant groups are bent on putting pressure on President Obama and Congress to tackle the debate this year. If no immigration reform comes forth, they have expressed their desire that Obama at least use executive action to scale back the number of deportations, much like he did two years ago when he granted Deferred Action for young immigrants. The move allowed them a two-year deportation reprieve and job permits.

To increase the pressure on Congress, another coalition of pro immigrant groups — including Coalición de los Derechos Plenos de Los Inmigrantes, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas and Estamos Unidos USA — is planning a Call-A-Thon to Congressional House Speaker John Boehner’s office in Washington in addition to a march. Bohener (R-OH) recently told reporters he would not push Republican representatives to support passing an immigration reform bill at this time.

At least 10 cell phones will be available at a booth set up at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway Street in downtown Los Angeles, where another march is scheduled today, May 1. Anyone can use these phones to call Boehner’s office to urge him to bring the immigration reform debate to the floor now.

Organizers said the goal is to make 11,000 phone calls, representing the estimated 11 million undocumented living in the United States.

Their march starts at noon and will head along Broadway Street before ending at the corner of Temple Street.

Even though the participation in immigration marches has dwindled since their height in 2006, when an estimated 1 million people came out on March 25 and May 1 of that year, Cabrera said it's important to continue putting pressure in this way for politicians to see that immigrant voices are not giving up.

“We can’t expect others to raise their voice and fight for our rights,” he noted. “Our future, well being and self-respect as a community is in play on May 1.”

As part of the May 1 events, there will be a presentation of the film “Cesar’s Last Fast,” directed by Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee, which will be showcased at the Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park, 2230 W. 6th St., in downtown Los Angeles.

The free presentation begins at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by Ambulante, a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by actors and filmmakers Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna, Pablo Cruz and Elena Fortes.

The film, in English and Spanish, is about the private sacrifice and spiritual conviction behind Cesar Chavez’s struggle for the humane treatment of America’s farm workers. It offers a panorama of Mexican American and American history, civil rights, non-violent protest tactics, the environment, and labor struggles, and an unprecedented insight into Chavez's life and the historic farmworker movement by featuring never-before-seen footage of Chavez’s 1988 “Fast for Life,” a 36-day act of self imposed penance. The film premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 06:45

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