Today in labor history: Immigrant rights mega marches sweep U.S.


Today in 2006, tens of thousands of immigrants demonstrated in 100 U.S. cities in a national day of action billed as a campaign for immigrants' dignity. Some 200,000 gathered in Washington, D.C.

The massive demonstrations swelled to never seen before numbers after the Republican-led Congress had passed H.R. 4437, also known as the Sensenbrenner bill named after former Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. The bill made it a felony for any undocumented worker to be here and for anyone to help or provide a service to them, be it religious, medical, humanitarian or educational.

A month before, Chicago rocked the nation with hundreds of thousands marching on March 10 for immigrant rights. Demonstrators said the repressive bills coming out of Congress awakened a "sleeping giant."

People's World reporter Pepe Lozano wrote, "Marchers stood shoulder-to-shoulder holding signs that read, 'To the Minutemen: Stop, don't shoot! I clean your toilets,' and 'I'm not a criminal or a terrorist, I'm a dishwasher.' Others said, 'Keep our families together,' 'No human being is illegal' and 'We are not criminals, we are workers.'"

Today, as Congress nears passing immigration reform, tens of thousands are marching in Washington D.C., demanding the bill be comprehensive, keeps families together and guarantees workers rights.

View some of People's World coverage of the historic April 10 National Day of Action for Immigration Justice and the actions, issues leading up to it here:

Download the new pamphlet on immigration: Myth vs. Fact on immigration reform.

Photo: Immigrant families join community organizations and unions in a 2007 May Day march for rights and dignity, Chicago. (PW/Pepe Lozano)