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Massive demonstrations mark "a day without immigrants" in the US

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Issue: 36 Section: International News Geography: USA Topics: social movements, migration

May 4, 2006

Massive demonstrations mark "a day without immigrants" in the US

by Hillary Bain Lindsay

Over 1.5 million people took part in May Day demonstrations in the United States this year, reported Pacifica Radio. The May 1 demonstrations were demanding legalization and workers' rights for immigrants.

The May Day marches in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago were among the largest, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets. Smaller demonstrations - in some cases tens of thousands strong - took place in cities across the country, reported The News Standard.

The May 1 demonstrations are the latest in a string of record-breaking protests calling for immigrant rights in the US. These protests are largely in response to an immigration proposal to make it a felony to be in the US illegally and to sharply increase the budget for interdiction at the Mexican border, reported The Globe and Mail

"The way I see it, 500 years ago, they tried to get rid of our people," Alvaro Andrade, an Ecuadoran Indian who works as a carpenter in Long Island told The Village Voice "When Columbus and then the pilgrims came, they put us down with disease and made us slaves. Now they're all freaking out because they look at it as the browning of America. But it's not. It's the re-browning of America. Because we are the true Americans. We're the future of America. So now you say you're going to build a wall along the border? So who's gonna build it?"

Immigrants and their supporters skipped school, work and shopping on May 1 to support the day of protest, reported the New York Times.

Stores and restaurants in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York closed because workers did not show up or as a display of solidarity with demonstrators. In Los Angeles, the police estimated that more than half a million people attended two demonstrations in and near downtown. School districts in several cities reported a decline in attendance; at Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, only 17 percent of the students showed up, even though administrators and some protest organizers had urged students to stay in school.

Lettuce, tomatoes and grapes went unpicked in fields in California and Arizona, which contribute more than half the nation's produce, as scores of growers let workers take the day off. Truckers who move 70 percent of the goods in ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., did not work.

Meatpacking companies, including Tyson Foods and Cargill, closed plants in the Midwest and the West employing more than 20,000 people, while the flower and produce markets in downtown Los Angeles stood largely and eerily empty.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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