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Los Angeles

Marching for Immigrants' Rights

by staff |
June 1, 2002
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Los Angeles, CA - On May 1, 15,000 Latino immigrants and their supporters marched through downtown demanding, "Legalization now! Stop immigrant bashing!" This immigrants' rights march was the largest in recent U.S. history. Enthusiastic demonstrators chanted, "We are here and we won't leave!" referring to recent Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) raids and deportations of workers without so-called 'legal' status. The march included union, community groups, and immigrants' rights organizations.

Marching down Broadway, past City Hall and the LA Police Department headquarters, the militant protest arrived at the Federal Building for a huge rally. The march included a contingent from the Centro Community Service Organization (Centro CSO), Hermandad Mexicana and other Mexican/Chicano groups. Many Asian and Central American groups joined the protest march.

The march and rally, organized by Multi-ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network (MIWON), was to fight the increase in anti-immigrant attacks after Sept. 11. MIWON focused on immigrants' rights, but did not link the recent increase in attacks to the U.S. war against Afghanistan and the many arrests and deportations of Arab, Palestinian, and South Asian people. The Centro CSO contingent banner condemned the U.S. war against the people of the Middle East and demanded "Amnesty for all immigrants now!"

After Sept. 11, the police and INS have increased attacks against immigrants through raids, arrests and deportations. In Los Angeles, the INS, or "migra" as it is known in the Latino community, raided the airport, arresting workers and people traveling. This has been repeated at airports across the country.

On the border with Mexico the rise of anti-immigrant violence and more surveillance has caused many deaths, as people try to cross through the California and Arizona deserts.

In addition, the economic crisis has meant more layoffs in hotel, service and tourism industries, where many immigrants work. This, coupled with the increase in immigrant attacks, has led to the intensification of racism and oppression against Mexican/Chicano and Central American families.

The Centro CSO holds it was very important to join the May 1 march with the demand for legalization and to stop immigrant bashing. Said one member, "We support the building of a mass militant movement for immigrants' rights and self-determination for Mexican/Chicano people in the Southwest U.S., which we call Aztlan."

To join Centro CSO call the Centro CSO office at (323) 221-4000