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San Jose, CA

Thousands Join Labor Day March for Immigrants' Rights

by Carlos Reyes |
September 15, 2006
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San Jose, CA - More than 10,000 people marched here on Labor Day, to continue the struggle for immigrant’s rights. The event was organized by Voluntarios de la Communidad in response to the call by the National Alliance for Immigrant Rights for Labor Day actions. While smaller than the massive May 1 rally, the marchers were spirited as they carried an almost mile-long banner with the signatures of tens of thousands of supporters of immigrants’ rights. Mexican flags with the slogan, “I’m an immigrant, not a criminal,” could be seen, along with American flags as well as banners opposing HR 4437, the Republican-backed bill that would make the undocumented, their families, friends and service providers felons. Chants of, “Bush, escucha, el pueblo esta en lucha!” [Listen, Bush, the people are in struggle!] and “Aqui estamos, y no nos vamos!” [We are here, and we are not going away!] were heard throughout the march.

The protest began with a rally at a shopping center in East San Jose, home to tens of thousands of Latino and Asian immigrants. Rally speakers included a Catholic priest, a Latino state assemblyman, community activists and a group of youthful singers and musicians. The march started small, with only a couple of thousand people, but grew to 10,000 or more by the end as people joined in along the way. Stores could be seen with posters announcing the rally and community organizers had handed out flyers to galvanize a grassroots turnout for that day.

While the San Jose march was one of the largest in the entire United States, unions, along with many immigrant rights organizations and Asian American community groups in San Jose did not endorse or mobilize for the event. While a broad united front for immigrant rights was seen inside the Latino community that day, trade unionists, immigrant rights activists and Asian American community organizers need to do more to educate and mobilize their organizations to join the Latino community to form a more powerful movement for immigrant rights.