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Minnesota May Day march demands drivers licenses, no more deportations

By staff |
May 2, 2014
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May 1 demonstration at Minnesota State Capitol
Above:
May 1 demonstration at Minnesota State Capitol (Photo by Chris Getowicz)
No More Deportations contingent at May 1 march in St. Paul
William Martinez of MIRAC speaks at the May 1 march in St. Paul
Right:
No More Deportations contingent at May 1 march in St. Paul
Left:
William Martinez of MIRAC speaks in front of the capitol at the May 1 march in St. Paul

Saint Paul, MN - On May 1, International Workers Day, around 2000 people marched two and a half miles from the Governor’s Mansion to the State Capitol. The march raised four demands: drivers licenses for all, workers rights, just immigration reform, and no more deportations.

Most of the immigrant rights movement in Minnesota is united behind the push for drivers licenses for all. A drivers licenses bill at the capitol is near passage, but the legislative session is almost over and the bill is being blocked by Speaker of the House Representative Paul Thissen. That gave an urgency and focus to the May 1 march to the capitol.

The demand for drivers licenses rang out strongly throughout the march. The demonstration arrived at the capitol and , after several speakers, the marchers streamed into the capitol building and filled the rotunda with booming chants, demanding that the legislature approve the bill for drivers licenses for all this session. The demand for drivers licenses resonates deeply because 2 million people have been deported since 2009. A large number of them are first detained for driving without a license.

The demand for “no more deportations” was also prominent at the march. Because so many people are being deported, it is an issue that has touched almost all immigrant families and their communities. The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) organized a No More Deportations contingent to press this demand with banners, flags, posters, flyers and chants.

The St. Paul march was led by immigrant rights organization Mesa Latina along with the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee and around 30 other organizations including unions such as AFSCME Locals 3800 and Local 34, UNITE HERE Local 17 and organizations including Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), MORENA-Minnesota, Centro Campesino, Occupy Homes, Chicano Studies departments at the University of Minnesota and at Saint Cloud State University and many others. Many students came to the march from the University of Minnesota, Saint Olaf, Saint Benedicts, and high schools including Washburn, Harding and others.

The march in Saint Paul wasn’t the only May Day action in the Twin Cities. A church-based immigrant rights group, Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, blocked traffic in downtown Minneapolis to demand action on deportations and immigration reform.

On May 3, Freedom Road Socialist Organization is hosting a May Day Dinner and Celebration featuring speakers from important local working class struggles. The celebration is at 5:00 p.m. at 4200 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis.

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