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General Strike for Immigrant Rights

by staff |
March 11, 2006
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March 10, 2006 general strike for immigrant rights in Chicago
March 10, 2006 general strike for immigrant rights in Chicago (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Chicago IL - Upwards of 200,000 people marched through downtown Chicago, March 10, chanting, “Si, se puede!,” meaning, “Yes we can!” defeat the Sensenbrenner bill.

This legislation, HR (House Resolution) 4437, was passed in December by the U.S. House of Representatives and looks ready to move quickly through the Senate. If passed, it would make it a crime for organizations or individuals to assist undocumented immigrants. In other words, if your union or social service organization were to help someone who is undocumented, you would be guilty of ‘alien smuggling,’ and could face federal prison time.

Under current law, being an undocumented worker is a civil crime in the U.S. This bill will make it a criminal act. It would permanently bar all undocumented persons - including 1.6 million children - from the United States. It would lead to the separation of families.

“Somos Todos America” (We Are All America)

Most of the marchers came from the Mexican immigrant community in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. They were joined by Korean, Polish, Irish, Arab and other immigrant communities. Together, they made up the largest rally of any kind in the history of Chicago.

More than that, everyone present had to take off work or school. One of the key organizers, Jose Artemio Arreola, told Fight Back! newspaper, “Over 100 factories allowed workers to take the day off, because so many workers told the owners they were going for the general strike.”

Referring to the slogan of the day, Arreola continued, “We want the message to go out all across the country: Somos Todos America - We Are All America.” Arreola, together with Omar Lopez, initiated the Coalition Against HR4437, which called for the general strike just five weeks ago. Arreola hopes the groundswell of support that produced this historic event will produce a domino effect, with other cities around the U.S. holding rallies and general strikes as well. “If there is resistance everywhere, the senators will get the word and vote against this bill.”

Already, Los Angeles is planning two weekends of struggle. Latinos Against the War in East L.A. is raising immigrants’ rights in an action on the anniversary of the Iraq war, March 17. In addition, March 25 will see a rally against HR4437 and on March 26, immigrants’ rights will be the focus of the annual Chavez Labor Mass for the churches in the area.