May Day Rallies: Strength in Fewer Numbers

By The News May 01, 2007

L.A. immigrant rights rally, Sept. 2006. Hundreds of people in cities across America will stomp the streets in a national protest for immigrant workers’ rights and to pressure Congress to pass progressive immigration reform. With the motto: "We are all human! No one is illegal," the May Day 2007 campaign is marching a straight-forward battle for civil rights. The May Day movement has set up 10 civil rights commandments. 1) No to anti-immigrant legislation, and the criminalization of the immigrant communities. 2) No to militarization of the border. 3) No to the immigrant detention and deportation. 4) No to the guest worker program. 5) No to employer sanction and "no match" letters. 6) Yes to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 7) Yes to speedy family reunification. 8) Yes to civil rights and humane immigration law. 9) Yes to labor rights and living wages for all workers. 10) Yes to the education and LGBT immigrant legislation. But as raids in immigrant communities lead to more arrests and deportations, immigrants’ mass participation in this year’s protests may be subdued, the New York Times reported May 1.

A year ago today, hundreds of thousands of immigrants marched in dozens of cities across the United States. Today, the numbers are expected to be much smaller. What’s changed? Organizers said that “stepped-up raids in recent months have left many immigrants afraid to speak out in public,” according to The Associated Press. A few weeks after last year’s protests, the Senate passed legislation that would have given most illegal immigrants the chance to become citizens. The bill hit a wall in the House. Meanwhile, the Bush administration toughened enforcement of laws against illegal immigration, expanded the Border Patrol, continued building a security fence along the Mexican border and sharply increased the number of arrests. In 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials “removed 221,664 illegal immigrants from the country over the last year, an increase of more than 37,000 — about 20 percent — over the year before,” according to statistics quoted in today’s Times.

RaceWire will keep you updated on the latest analysis of today’s action. So keep checking in.