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(en) Industrial Worker - Official Newspaper Of the Wrkers Of the World III.

Date Fri, 16 Jun 2006 19:04:32 +0300

Actions occurred all across the country,
from Arizona to New York, from Alabama
to here in California's Bay Area. Momentum
for this new movement for immigrant rights
and amnesty to all those undocumented is
growing, and is being called the next civil
rights movement.
An example of the daily resistance in the
San Francisco Bay Area was on March 21, as
approximately 50 people gathered outside the
San Francisco Federal Building to take part
in a week-long hunger strike in protest of HR
4437 (which declares all undocumented im-
migrants and those who assist them felons).
Camped outside for 24 hours a day, one
participant was an IWW member displaying
the Wobbly banner outside her tent. When
fellow worker Patricia Nuno was asked why
she joined in this hunger strike, she said,
"I have been inspired by the IWW and our
historic and current organizing for a more
dignified reality for immigrants and all the
workers of the world, and I still want to take
it even further. I participated as a first genera-
tion in this country, and as a Wobbly, showing
my solidarity to all the immigrants who live
without rights and are fighting for equality."
Following weeks of walk-outs, hunger
strikes and protests, the Bay Area was another
contingent in the National Day of Action for
Immigrant Justice. The local April 10 event
was organized by Compañeros Del Barrio (or
Friends of the Community), a local organiza-
tion in the Bay Area. We began to congregate
at the 16th street train station, in San Fran-
cisco's heavily Mexican, Central and South
American working class Mission District, in
a rally with various public speakers.
At the starting rally, the crowd stood at
about 1,500 people (over a dozen of whom
were Wobblies), pouring onto the streets that
we would soon take for our march.
The crowd was heavily enthusiastic, and
among their various chants was: "¡Las calles
son de la gente, la gente donde esta, la gente esta
en las calles demandando libertadad!" ("The
streets are of the people, and the people,
where are they? The people are on the streets,
demanding liberty!") People of all ages, races,
genders and industries attended the event,
carrying American, Mexican, anarchist and
various Central and South American flags,
along with thoughtful and straight-forward
signs that expressed both the frustration and
will of immigrants and their allies.
The overwhelming demand of the crowd
was for the general amnesty of all those un-
documented, and for some, the abolition of
the border, seeing it as an arbitrary division
that divides working people.
The message was clear: No to all forms
of repressive anti-immigrant legislation; No
to the militarization of the U.S. and Mexican
Border; and No to the assertion that any
people be deemed "illegal." The public
response was overwhelmingly positive. On
this movement for immigrant justice, fellow
worker Walter Parenteau says, "I think there's
a great comparison to be made between the
civil rights movement and what seems to be
happening today. In both situations we have
a silenced and frustrated minority. As in the
civil rights movement, undocumented work-
ers are finding their voice through solidarity
and organizing."
When reaching our destination, our
numbers had swelled to
well over 2,500 people,
as those in the busy Mis-
sion street decided to join
us. We ended at another
train station, entirely oc-
cupying the intersection
for over two hours dur-
ing rush-hour traffic. An
entertaining alternative
to the speakers platform
was provided by Aztec-
an dancers, who moved A woman holds a
rhythmically to a drum's the San Francisco
intonation. Inside this circle of dancers were
not only those who were well-practiced
(seniors and children alike), but others who
simply wanted to participate. This ceremonial
dancing provided an optimistic air, energizing
the crowd into chants and discussion.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the police dispersed
the crowd with threats of arrest. However,
Fuga, a cumbia-influenced music group,
spontaneously converged on the street cor-
ner, carrying on the celebratory atmosphere
of music. Their music dealt with issues that
were personal to the crowd, many of whom
were immigrants themselves. They played
moving songs about the struggles faced by
the international worker, the deadly border
and the life of the migrant. The crowd made
up of marchers, jornaleros, and those lucky
enough to be walking past, clapped their
hands and sang along to the poignant but
empowering music.
The next National Day of Action is being
led by a coalition of immigrant right's groups,
and will occur May 1, the international day
of worker's struggle. They are calling for "A
Day Without an Immigrant," a day in which
immigrants and their allies are encouraged
to boycott work, school and the economy,
to demonstrate just how important the im-
migrant communities of America are. Updates
can be found on www.immigrantrights.org.
As this new civil rights movement contin-
ues to materialize, it is developing in different
directions. A conflict in the Bay Area, and
perhaps elsewhere, has been over the use of
flags, particularly national flags. For some,
the Mexican, Central and South American
flags create potential conflict, fearing that it
can be seen as proof of the alleged "invasion"
to anti-immigrant fundamentalists. The same
people generally encourage demonstrators to
carry American flags. Although this particular
use of the American flag is much different
than the way in which for example, the Min-
utemen, have used it, it is still problematic
to some. But the U.S. flag remains a symbol
heavily utilized in the immigrant rights move-
ment, and is clearly not used to demonstrate
imperialist sentiment, but rather to express
how such a large number of American people
(with or without papers) have a vital role in
the American economy and want to be treated
as full citizens with full rights.
However, many groups, such as Deporten
a la Migra (Deport the INS/ICE) based out of
San Francisco, do not ask their supporters
to carry a U.S. or other national flag. Other
groups have supported the red and black
workers' flag to represent not a nation, but
rather a people united through their class for
the liberty and self-determination of all work-
ers, regardless of the land they call home.
May 1st: Defend the rights
of immigrant workers
Whereas the working class knows no bor-
ders or races, but exists wherever workers are
exploited for the benefit of capital; and
Whereas all human beings are entitled to
the means of obtaining the necessities of life for
themselves and their families, regardless of any
artificial barriers created by government; and
Whereas the nature of capitalist economies
is to draw workers from all over to the centers
of capitalist investment, while at the same time
drawing wealth out of less-developed economies,
thereby eliminating opportunities to earn a living
within such economies; and P h OTO : I N Dy M E D I A
Whereas the recent rise in immigration to the United States of America is directly attrib-
utable to this process, as exemplified by the destructive free-trade treaties forced upon Latin
America by the United States government, as well as the insatiable lust of North American
employers for a dependent, immigrant work-force that can be compelled to labor under sub-
minimum wages and deplorable working conditions and used to undermine the working
conditions of all workers; and
Whereas all workers, wherever economic necessity may force them to seek work, are
entitled to organize and take concerted, economic action for the defense and aid of their class,
for which purpose the Industrial Workers of the World has sought to unite the workers of
the world in One Big Union, regardless of nationality or place of origin; and
Whereas the struggle of immigrant workers is connected and integral to the struggle of
all workers for industrial freedom and economic security, which demands the solidarity of
all workers, in every industry throughout the world;
Now, therefore, be it Resolved,
That the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World declares its
opposition to efforts to prohibit or criminalize the crossing of national borders by workers,
and opposes efforts to prohibit the giving of aid and comfort to immigrant workers; and be
it further Resolved,
That, in order to advance the solidarity of all workers, and to demonstrate to the employ-
ing class that an injury to one worker is an injury to all, the General Executive Board of the
Industrial Workers of the World hereby endorses the popular call for a general strike and
protest in defense of immigrant workers in the United States, and calls upon all Branches and
members of the organization to participate in such a strike and protest, as local circumstances
shall permit, on the first day of May 2006, the International Workers' Holiday.
General Executive Board, Industrial Workers of the Worl
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