Huge May Day rallies fueled by outrage over Arizona law


Well over 100,000 immigrants and their supporters demonstrated May 1 in more than 100 communities throughout the country, in a massive outpouring of protest fueled by outrage over Arizona's SB 1070 which allows police to stop anyone merely on suspicion they might be undocumented.

Unions, faith groups, African American and Native American organizations and a broad range of community organizations joined with immigrants from around the world to demand just and comprehensive immigration reform. Signs and T-shirts proclaiming "Todos Somos Arizona" ("We are all Arizonans") were a common sight.

Meanwhile, a powerful movement to boycott Arizona is developing to protest the draconian law.

The largest march was in Los Angeles, where an estimated 60,000 marchers turned out.

Angelica Salas of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles told the LA Times that five coalitions representing over 150 labor, faith and immigrant rights organizations worked with Spanish language media to build the rally.

She called the demonstration "a message to President Obama" for immigration reform and an end to 
"massive deportations," as well as "a special message to Republicans" to stop blocking reform and cease supporting "hateful laws" in Arizona.

At City Hall, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa expressed strong backing for immigration reform, while Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony told the crowd, "Everyone in God's eyes is legal. We are standing with our immigrant brothers and sisters."

In Tucson, Ariz., over 20,000 marchers - black, brown and white, young and old, immigrants and native-born - rallied at Armory Park. Among them were U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., United Farm Workers union co-founder Dolores Huerta and singer Linda Ronstadt. Sponsors included the Derechos Humanos coalition, No More Deaths, the Pima Area Labor Federation and other unions, and the Communist Party USA.

In Phoenix, Ariz., at least 4,000 joined in protests at the capitol that lasted far into the night. "Undocumented immigrants come here to work, they don't come to live on charity," 64-year-old Hector Ortega, a native-born U.S. citizen, told "What they are trying to do to them will also influence us. It hurts me that I would have to carry my documents with me when no one else would," he said, adding that if he is stopped he will not cooperate.

One of the largest marches brought out some 30,000 protesters in Dallas, Texas. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was prominent among the demonstrators, along with local churches and religious leaders.

In Chicago, over 20,000 marched for immigrant rights and jobs, following the annual tribute to the Haymarket Martyrs sponsored by the Chicago Federation of Labor and Illinois Labor History Society. A 75-member delegation from Japan's Zenroren Labor Federation participated in both events. The march was led by a delegation of undocumented immigrant youth, the Immigrant Youth Justice League, who have boldly "come out of the shadows." Unions, community organizations and churches from across the metropolitan area joined in the march.

In Washington D.C., U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., an author of an immigration reform bill now before Congress, was among 35 arrested after sitting in at the White House during a protest by thousands.

Though the Los Angeles march was by far the biggest in California, thousands more protested in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Watsonville, Salinas and other cities and towns throughout the state.

In Sacramento, a thousand people, many with their children, gathered at the Capitol before marching to the Federal Building, carrying signs saying "Derechos para todos inmigrantes!" (rights for all immigrants), "Legalization Now," "Stop racial profiling," and "Boycott Arizona."

Calls for a boycott have reverberated throughout the country. In California, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has called for ending existing state contracts. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom are among elected officials expressing support, while the Oakland City Council is expected to vote on a measure May 4. The Major League Baseball players union condemned the law and some players say they wouldn't participate in the 2011 All-Star game in Arizona.

Gail Ryall, Jim Lane, Joe Bernick and John Bachtell contributed to this article.

Photo: May Day rally in Oakland, Calif. (PW/Marilyn Bechtel)

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  • Thanks for this fine article.

    Looking over the "comments" so far, I find that there is a lot of confusion on the subject of the causes of mass labor immigration as well as its impact on the US working class. In fact, increased mass labor immigration is a worldwide phenomenon which is stimulated by the growing inequities between richer and poorer countries, and within almost all countries. The reason it comes in "without inspection" is that the governments and ruling classes of the rich countries, although they know full well the reasons for the immigration, do not provide legal challenges.
    The immigrants' rights movement is not fighting to bring in more undocumented immigrants. It is fighting to legalize those already here, and create safe and legal channels for future immigration. This is in the interests of US workers who are only harmed when wages of immigrant workers are artificially suppressed by their lack of legal rights.
    The issue of equality and social justice in countries like Mexico has to be seen in the light of the U.S. ruling class' collusion with the local elites to make sure that workers' and peasants' movements do not gain power. The capitalist class in Mexico is thoroughly intertwined with the U.S. ruling class. Major US based corporations such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland dominate food production in Mexico, and WalMart now has more than 700 big box stores there which have driven thousands of Mexican owned businesses into bankruptcy. If in Mexico somehow a radical left wing government were to take power and start distributing the wealth, there would be Hell to pay on this side of the border, and powerful and wealthy interests here would become super active in destabilizing such a government.
    So the interests of US workers lie in uniting with immigrant workers here and with workers in every country, as the enemy is the same. That's a May Day thought.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 05/04/2010 1:47pm (5 years ago)

  • ...well again Marilyn Bechtel posts something she is either not qualified to speak about or she just willfully lies about. By law the authorities are not given the right to "stop anyone merely on the suspicion they might be undocumented". It is clearly stated in the law that is forbiden.

    The AZ law nearly restates the federal law and is by a long shot not "draconian". Immigration, controlled, managed and legal is a good thing for this country but that is not what these people (socalists) marched for May 1st. Border security 1st, follow existing immigrations laws 2nd, establish a verifiably secure worker visa program 3rd and then and only then we begin to talk about how many immigrants from Latin American countries do we allow in each year for citizenship. Nothing new about any of those things really, they are applied to all other want to be immigrants from...say Sweden. Those marching are no better/no worse than any other group.

    Posted by vasaman, 05/04/2010 1:39pm (5 years ago)

  • I used to love to visit Mexico but not anymore. I cannot blame any Mexican from wanting to come to the U.S. for a better life. I am sure with the redistribution of wealth all of us are willing to be taxed at 60% of our earnings to provide a better life for all those pouring across the borders.
    Those who work are payed extremely well as compared to Mexico and they DO WORK, unlike so many U.S. citizens who live at middle class standards via supplemented government benefits for doing nothing.
    If you bother to look at the rise of SOCIALISM in Russia,China, European Countries and the BRITISH EMPIRE you should see beyond any doubt there is no such thing as the redistribution of wealth. Those who had wealth in the ruling Political Class and who create wealth keep it. They find ways to keep it in the policies they formulate. It is no different here in the U.S.
    I am a firm believer Marx had it right when he stated, "Those who will not work will not eat !"

    Posted by SwampFox2U, 05/04/2010 1:29pm (5 years ago)

  • One would expect negative comments from right wingers who joyfully support SB1070, but from people who claim to be "Leftisits", well my God something is certainly out of kilter here!

    In San Antonio 2,000 of us marched to commemorate May Day and to express our opposition to SB 1070!
    Clergy, trade unionists, LULAC, progressive community organizations and just folks who are disgusted with the way things are going came out!

    We must never forget that the real criminals are the parasites who run Wall Street and their mercenaries at the Pentagon! Hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers are out of work and have lost their homes because of Wall Street greed, NOT the presence of undocumented immigrants! School systems, local and state governments are laying off workers and cutting services to communities across the nation! This is the real crime all caused by corporate greed!

    The Pentagon continues to devastate both Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians have been raped, tortured and murdered by U.S. troops, yet no one is prosecuting the perpetrators!
    No one is prosecuting Bush or Cheney for their violations of our Constitution, war crimes or crimes against humanity!

    Hitler used a similar scapegoating strategy in Germany during that nation's economic crisis. He scapegoated the Jews, the communists, socialists, trade unions and anyone he suspected of being able to organize resistance to his fascist tyranny! Do we want the same to occur here? I think NOT!

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 05/04/2010 11:51am (5 years ago)

  • Hello I am 17yrs old and i feel like that we as mexicans and latinos are being denied our rights.Just like Marther luther king said, right delayed is a right denied

    Posted by Joel, 05/04/2010 11:48am (5 years ago)

  • I am deeply disappointed that the CPUSA supports the oppression of American workers by rallying for illegal immigrants who take jobs from the American proletariat.

    The solution to Mexico's problems must be solved by Mexicans fighting injustices in Mexico rather than by sneaking into our country and using our dwindling economic resources.

    Your position supports the Mexican bourgeoisie at the expense of American workers. If you really want to support illegal immigration, perhaps you should disband as the CPUSA and reorganize as the Partido Communista de los Estados Unidos de Mexico-Fronte Norteamericano!

    Being anti-immigration does NOT make you a fascist, so reconsider your stance! Also, your offical platform is that you seek to bring socialism to the US by *legal* means!


    Posted by WWMD, 05/04/2010 2:54am (5 years ago)

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