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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor
Boston Participates in a Nationwide Mobilization for Immigrant and Labor Rights
11 Apr 2006
Boston--Spring 2006 will be remembered as the largest immigrant rights movement in the history of the United States. Hundreds of protests were planned nationwide on April 9 and 10, while in Boston numbers doubled since last week as ten of thousands marched from the Commons to Copley Square.

[Photo by Jonathan]
trabajadores.jpg
“The passage of H.R. 4437 has unleashed an unprecedented movement in favor of immigrant justice and against reactionary proposals that would worsen America’s already broken immigration system,” said Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director for Center for Community Change, “Immigrant communities and allies will not be satisfied with any legislation that violates our principles for fair immigration reform.”

The slogan “Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote” was heard across the nation as the grassroots immigrant movement demanded reforms to help speed up the legalization process, reunite families, and rights to higher education. They were also present to demand workers rights. Undocumented immigrants account for about 4.9% of the civilian labor force, or 7.2 million workers out of a total U.S. labor force of 148 million.

“We are looking for better conditions to work, justice in the job, and legalization,” said Tania Martanti, a woman carrying a sign for a 27-year-old Brazilian construction worker who died after a scaffolding fell thirteen stories in Boston last week. “These guys are building America too, you know?”

Critics of immigration reform say that undocumented immigrants cost the US government millions in social services and do not pay taxes. In reality, the vast majority of the $6 to $7 billion in unclaimed social security is attributable to undocumented workers, according to Standard & Poor’s, a research and risk analysis company.

“Thanks to this mobilization we are no longer invisible,” said Luis Fernando Velez from Boston’s Service Employers International Union (SEIU), an 18-thousand member, mostly Latino union. “We are here to tell politicians that many of us are ready to vote, but they have to be ready to support the interests of the working class.” Velez said that much of their efforts are currently focused on the Justice for Janitors national living wage campaign, a topic addressed in the movie Bread and Roses.

In their 2004 Latino Labor Report, the Pew Hispanic Center found that recently arrived Hispanic immigrants were a leading source of new workers to the economy but also among the principal recipients of wage cuts in 2004. The concentration of Latinos in relatively low-skill occupations contributed to reduced earnings for them for the second year in a row. No other major group of workers suffered a two-year decline in wages.

That would explain the significant presence of labor unions at the march today, including Hotel Union Workers, United Steel Workers of America, Local 8771, and Boston School Bus Drivers. Many of them are joining forces to participate in a national strike on May 1st since they consider immigrant rights to be mostly, a labor rights issue.

“This is not only about people who are doing low-income jobs, it’s about people who have gone to college and have their degrees,” said Raymond Brady, an Irish immigrant who finds much in common between Latino workers today and the first Irish workers who arrived in New York. He also said that immigrants nowadays come from many different economic backgrounds.

Michael Mandel, chief economist for Business Week, reports that skilled, educated immigrants represent an estimated $50 to $200 billion annual human capital. Only in regards of the housing market, Mandel found that between 2000 and 2004, the number of immigrant families who owned their own homes rose by 22% (according to Census data), accounting for one-third of the rise in family home ownership between 2000 and 2004.

Meanwhile, legislators in the Senate crafted but stalled on a compromise that largely focused on enhanced border security, a guest worker program, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s recommendations to encourage most undocumented immigrants to leave the United States voluntarily.

This “path to legalization” established that those who had been in the US more than five years could stay and earn citizenship. Those here between two and five years could file for a temporary work visa, but would have to return to their country of origin to process it. And those here less than two years would have to return home and stand in line with others seeking legal entry.

The Judiciary panel could have a bill ready for renewed floor debate in 10 days.

This work is in the public domain

Comments

Immigrant Rights, anti- War & other demos
11 Apr 2006
hmmm hmmm... musing thinking:
That was definitively the *largest* recent demo Ive seen since the origonal worldwide Eve of the Iraq War one, and yesterday was the most joyful, and positive, "YES! WE CAN DO IT!" is a fab slogan it uplifts folks spirits... we were surrounded in drumming and dancing as folks of all ages and all shades danced in the streets of our sad & grey lil old Boston town.

Congradulations to the organisers!

The largest one I remember before that Eve of War one is back in the early 1980's, the people of Boston and the suburbs gathered for the Earth and against Nuclear Weapons, on our Boston Common - filling the entire end near the statehouse with teens & suits, students, workers, hippies, babies, elders, etc. Almost EVERYBODY turned out then because everybody was affected by the concept of Nuclear War and the fate of the Earth.

It looks to me like "we" only turn out en mass when the issue is PERSONAL. Thats a natural HUMAN thing to do... Make it personal, and the people rise up out of our tunnels of fear and seperation, and will stand up to be seen.

So, you want to have a large Demo, and you want people to come? Thats wrong-headed thinking.

You have the ISSUE, and the masses affected by it personally, then: thats when the people will start to rise up and make demonstration of their inner hopes dreams desires and need.

So,
what are the issues that workingclass and middle class white folks have, and why do they not stand up in unity in our streets?
musing...
What are the issues for middle class and upper class Black folk, and what would make them take the streets again as they did when younger?

Is it all a simple matter of mind control and economic fear? Too much TV and internet and tabloid reading? Too many video games?

Whats the sardonic ironic sad "i gave up on trying cause its all a waste" thing got going for it, and why do people like to stick with it more than hope and movement..?

Is it simply the Fear of getting their head cracked? Fear of being arrested and becoming un-employable w a Record of arrest?

What are the *issues that prevent people from organizing*, and why are some groups so offensive or unattractive in their approch, and others attractive and effective in turning out thousands upon thousands into the streets...

Im NOT asking for quick little answers, or smug cracks, (but we're experts on both here in Trollville USA ha ha ha!)

I am asking these questions to put them out there, for those who silently read and ignore the trolls:

Let us think on this.
Let us muse well and deeply on what the people we know & care about & love NEED in order to truely live in freedom, in an amount of human happyness, fed enougth and with clean air water food and an earth worth sharing.

Let us think very very deeply.
PEACE