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La Liga de Las Americas

Marchers, serenaders gather for immigrant-rights rallies

(AP): Immigrants and their supporters gathered May 1, in all parts of the United States for a multitude of events to support immigrant rights, including marches, rallies, boycotts, and, in the case of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), serenades.

Over 500 marched in Detroit commencing at St. Anne’s Church and ending at Clark Park, Detroit.

FLOC is based in Toledo and represents over 10,000 documented workers in the
Midwest and North Carolina. According to its president, Baldemar Velásquez, over 200 assembled in front of the Tiffin offices of U.S. Congressman Paul Gillmor (Republican, OH-5) for a protest serenade and “a taste of American diversity.”

Gillmor voted for HR 4437 last December and is up for re-election in November. Many consider HR 4437 (Sensenbrenner-King Bill) to be racist and draconian, and the purpose of the serenade was to remind Gillmor of this.  

Tens of thousands marched in Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Columbus, Detroit, Adrian, Cleveland, and Atlanta. These events were part of a nationwide action to show both support for immigration reform and opposition to legislation that would criminalize the actions of an estimated 11-12 million undocumented immigrants (in particular, HR 4437).

“The message is that there are hundreds of thousands of people, 12 million people here in this country working without the corresponding immigration papers,” said rally organizer Jorge Mujica as demonstrators began meeting in Chicago on Monday.

Some supporters called for undocumented immigrants and their allies to have a national boycott to flex their economic muscle. Others protested at lunch breaks, school walkouts, or at rallies after work.

Anti HR 4437 protesters rally in front of the courthouse in Adrian, MI.—Photo by Joe Campos

Organizers of the Chicago, Toledo, Adrian, Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit rallies never called on anyone to skip school or refuse to go to work on Monday, but activists still expected to make a powerful statement.

“We are supporting this march because we want to show that immigrants are part of what makes America great,” said Karen Popowski, the director the Polish American Association, which helped organized the Chicago protest. “We would not have supported a boycott . . . or demanding anything.”

The seeds for Monday’s rallies were planted after a demonstration at Chicago’s federal plaza on March 10 unexpectedly drew more than 300,000 people. Similar rallies have been held in cities across the country since then, casting a national spotlight on the debate over immigration reform.

Many companies, in support of these rights, closed their doors, including Tyson and E & L Supermarket (Detroit).

Monday’s anti HR 4437 rally at Clark Park in Detroit, MI—See page 5

Numerous city/county council resolutions have condemned HR 4437, including councils in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus.

Editor’s Note: AP writer Nathaniel Hernández and Rico de La Prensa contributed to this report.







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