Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Detroit May Day March and Rally Draws Thousands

Detroit May Day March and Rally Draws Thousands

by Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

This year's May Day events marked the fourth consecutive year when the Latino community spearheaded a march and rally in support of immigrant rights. The event was organized by Latinos Unidos and supported by the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI)as well as other organizations.

The march began at Patton Park and proceeded along Vernor avenue where many others lined the streets and joined in with the walk and chants. Several small community businesses along the route provided water for the demonstrators who were largely youth and young workers. Estimates of the attendance by the corporate media and police ranged from 5,000-15,000.

May Day participants called for the full legalization of all undocumented workers, and end to raids and deportations by ICE, an end to racial profiling by law-enforcement and equal pay and protection for Latino workers, both "legal" and undocumented.

Ending at Clark Park after a two-hour march, the concluding rally was addressed by the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), Ignacio Meneses and Rosendo Delgado of Latinos Unidos, Abayomi Azikiwe of MECAWI and the Mortorium Now! Coalition and Michigan State Representative Coleman Young II.

May 1, 2009

5,000 rally in Detroit for immigrant rights

By Niraj Warikoo
Free Press Staff Writer

Waving Mexican and U.S. flags, thousands of immigrants and their supporters rallied in southwest Detroit today for immigrant rights.

Rally organizers called for comprehensive immigration reform that would offer a path to citizenship for legal and illegal immigrants, and for an end to deportations that they say separate families.

Over the past four years, the number of deportations in Michigan and across the U.S. has sharply increased.

For fiscal year 2008, 7,514 illegal immigrants in Michigan and Ohio were deported, compared to 4,144 in fiscal year 2007, an 81 percent increase. Compared to 2005, when 2,243 illegal immigrants were deported, that’s a 235 percent increase.

The rally started at Patton Park and ended at Clark Park in the heart of the Mexican-American community. Ralliers held up placards that read “Stop the Raids,” “Legalize Hard Work,” and “No Human is Illegal.”

“We need a more humane approach to immigration reform,” said Rosendo Delgado, a co-organizer with Latinos Unidos. This is the fourth annual immigration rally in Detroit. It was smaller compared to previous years when Congress was considering bills that would crack down on illegal immigration.

Detroit police estimated today’s crowd at 5,000 to 7,000.

Jhonatan Ferrer, 19, of Dearborn Heights said many illegal immigrants “live in the shadows of society” and need a path to citizenship so that employers and others can’t take advantage of them. Right now, Ferrer said, “they have no rights.”

Others expressed concerns about deportations and its affect on immigrant communities.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government agency that oversees deportations, said the government has “increased strategic enforcement efforts to identity and remove criminal and fugitive aliens.”

Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO: nwarikoo@freepress.com

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