CFL News
April 26, 2013

Labor To Stand In Solidarity With Immigration Reform Advocates On May Day

Chicago community, faith and labor allies said they stand in solidarity with immigrant rights advocates and will make a push for comprehensive immigration reform at the upcoming May Day workers' march and celebration in the city.

Source: Progress Illinois
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F_CHG3sUNyU

By Ellyn Fortino

Chicago community, faith and labor allies said they stand in solidarity with immigrant rights advocates and will make a push for comprehensive immigration reform at the upcoming May Day workers' march and celebration in the city.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with our immigrant brothers and sisters in support of securing a comprehensive and equitable immigration reform bill," Matt Brandon, secretary-treasurer of SEIU* Local 73, said in front of the Haymarket Memorial this morning. "Immigration reform has to include equity for the workers who have been forced to hide in the shadows over these many years."

May 1, or May Day, is an international day of honoring workers.

Labor, immigrant rights advocates and other groups will gather at Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph St., at 2 p.m. on May Day and march to Federal Plaza for a rally later in the afternoon. The Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois Labor History Society will also dedicate a new plaque at the Haymarket Memorial, which commemorates the Haymarket Tragedy on May 4, 1886 during the peak of the American labor movement.

“It’s only right that we’re standing here today in the birthplace of the American and international labor movement," said Mario Marin, area director of the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United, an SEIU affiliate."Throughout this past century and the decades we've been fighting against the corporate greed and against corporations on many levels. Today we join hands with our allies, the immigrant rights movement, and fight with them, alongside them, because this is the same fight."

Robert Reiter, secretary-treasurer for the Chicago Federation of Labor, said immigrants led the historic labor movement in the late 1800s.

"The labor movement has always been a movement of immigrants. Those are the folks who fought here in Chicago for the fight for an eight-hour work day," he said. "Those are the folks who continue to fight today to protect those who get taken advantage [of] everyday, not just in the workplace but in all kinds of different places here in our society."

The planned May Day march comes just a few weeks after an immigration reform bill was unveiled by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators.

Under the proposed bill, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” undocumented immigrants who are currently residing in the U.S. would be required to wait 10 years before filing for a green card, and after that there would be an additional three-year wait to apply to become a U.S. citizen. Younger undocumented immigrants and agricultural workers, however, would be eligible to apply for a green card within five years. 

Under the bill, the pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants would also be dependent upon the federal government passing several border security measures within a 10-year period.

“I know the immigration reform bill is not perfect, but it’s something that we need to continue to fight for," said Ada Fuentes, an organizer with Chicago Jobs with Justice.

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