Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Detroit's May Day March & Rally Draws Over 15,000

PANW Editor's Note: Two members of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI) Sue Pacquin and David Sole, are featured in the short video put together by the Detroit Free Press on the Detroit May Day demonstration yesterday. They have David saying that "Workers Have No Borders" and Sue talking about the human rights violations against the immigrant communities in the United States. Just go to the link below to view this news item.

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor

Detroit Free Press video featuring MECAWI
Also the Detroit News produced a short video on Detroit's May Day mass demonstration that drew thousands into the streets of Vernor Avenue. According to the police, there were 15,000, however, the crowds were so large that from the front, you could not see the end of the march. To view the Detroit News video just click on the web site below:

Detroit News Video on May Day Mass Demonstration:

Immigrants: Don't split families

They call for a path to citizenship and end to deportations

May 2, 2007

Waving U.S. and Mexican flags, thousands of immigrants and their supporters marched through the streets of Detroit on Tuesday in a vivid call for immigration reform they said is needed to lift them out of an underground world of fear and uncertainty.

Many came as families: toddlers and grandparents, moms and dads, uncles and aunts, all walking together to call for an end to deportations that are dividing families across metro Detroit.

Police estimated 15,000 protesters gathered in the heart of Detroit's Mexican-American community, illustrating how potent the issue of immigration reform has become locally and across the United States.

Immigrants and supporters also held rallies or marches in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Chicago.

"It's not right to split up families," said Juan Cuevas, 35, of Detroit, who marched with his wife, kids and nephews. "We're part of this country, too."

The largely Latino crowd pushed off from Patton Park, led by a police escort and men carrying a banner that read in bold, "Stop the Raids and Deportations," a reference to the 27% increase in deportations of illegal immigrants in Michigan and Ohio during the past year.

Winding their way east on Vernor, the protesters chanted, "Si, se puede" (Yes, we can) and "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido" (The people united will never be defeated). They walked past businesses that were shuttered Tuesday in solidarity.

As they entered Clark Park, mariachi music blared from speakers. By 12:30 p.m., the park was transformed into a sea of flags, red shirts and signs that read "Legalize Hard Work" and "USA Pais de Inmigrantes (USA Country of Immigrants).

Organizers assembled children waving U.S. flags to sit in the front to symbolize the future and how deportations are affecting young ones.

"We want justice and rights for all," said Roxanne Gambino, 21, of Detroit, who was at the rally with about 40 family members. "Hispanics are getting treated differently."

About 200 students from Detroit Public Schools left their schools Tuesday to participate in the rally, according to school officials, though it's unclear how many students actually attended.

The rally came on the first anniversary of an immigration protest in Detroit and in cities across the country that drew an estimated million people. The crowd Tuesday was sizable, but not as big as a Detroit rally in March 2006 that police say drew more than 50,000.

The protesters wanted Congress and President George W. Bush to support legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, 150,000 of them in Michigan. Protesters repeated that call Tuesday and also were upset over the upswing in deportations. Federal agents have maintained they are just enforcing the law.

Demonstrators, though, said the deportations are hurting families.

"Deportations separate families -- that is inhumane," the Rev. Don Hanchon, pastor of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, where 75% of the worshippers are Mexican immigrants, told the crowd at Clark Park.

Other speakers included labor leaders, Alex Resendez, director at La Explosiva, a popular Spanish-language radio station based in Ypsilanti, and Detroit City Councilwoman Jo-Ann Watson.

"We are a family," she said. "An assault on one is an assault on all."

In a separate event, Latinos, Arabs and Muslims gathered Tuesday evening at the International Institute in Detroit to call for an end to profiling of immigrants and minorities.

The size of the march and rally exceeded the expectations of the organizers.

Rosendo Delgado of the Detroit-based Latinos Unidos, one of the march organizers, said: "It's time society recognizes that we contribute to this country."

Contact NIRAJ WARIKOO at 248-351-2998 or Staff writer Chastity Pratt contributed to this report.

Thousands of Metro Detroiters protest for immigration reform

Santiago Esparza
The Detroit News

DETROIT -- Thousands of Detroiters donned red clothing Tuesday and took to the streets as part of a nationwide protest of U.S. immigration policies.

Beginning at Patton Park, the protesters marched about three miles along West Vernor to Clark Park, waving Mexican and American flags and chanting "Yes we can" in Spanish.

Michigan Catholic bishops pushed for the march as a way to celebrate the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker as well as look at different ways to handle the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country and 150,000 of them in Michigan.

The bishops want immigration laws to promptly reunite families, open a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants working here and create a system that allows temporary workers a path to residency, according to a press release from the Archdiocese of Detroit.

"Most of the undocumented people come here as a necessity of survival," said Rosendo Delgado, a member of Latinos Unidos, which helped organize the Detroit event. "For them it is the only choice."

Maria Alonzo, 30, who said she's known undocumented workers, agreed. "Their main focus is to come here to work," Alonzo said. "Everyone is struggling. They are trying to make money to send back to loved ones."

In March, the White House proposed three-year work visas for illegal immigrants that cost $3,500 and require immigrants to return to their home country to apply for residency.

Veronica Rivera, a 33-year-old Detroiter, said she hoped the event sent a message to elected officials that people are serious about immigration reform.

"They just want to be free and to be happy," she said.

About 50 of the 450 students at the Cesar Chavez Academy in southwest Detroit attended class Tuesday as children participated in the rally. Organizers said some businesses shut down for the day and others made do with fewer employees so they could take part in the event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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