New York, May 1 (EFE).- Hundreds of immigrants, many of them Latinos, marched in New York City on Sunday, some of them waving the flags of their home countries, to demand better working conditions and a path to US citizenship in a demonstration commemorating International Workers’ Day.
They let their voices be heard loudly to demand dignified pay, respect, the right to belong to a union, medical coverage and citizenship for millions of immigrants during a conference prior to the start of the march.
“All workers deserve permanent protections, including belonging to a union,” said Edwin, an organizer of 32BJ, which includes cleaning and maintenance workers in buildings all over the Big Apple, many of these workers being from Latin American countries.
Marchers displayed a huge sign at the head of the procession asserting that immigrants’ labor is essential for the US economy, with the throng setting out shortly after noon from Washington Square in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.
“We’re not one, we’re not 100, we’re millions,” “The streets are ours,” “A united people will never be defeated” and demands for “Citizenship now” and “Listen Biden, we’re in the fight” were some of the slogans shouted by enthusiastic marchers as many other New Yorkers and visitors to the city stopped to watch them pass by.
Other signs toted by marchers said “Stop the deportations” and “Ignore the parliamentarian,” referring to the non-partisan legislative official in Washington whose job is to interpret the Senate rules and who twice objected to the inclusion of elements of the overall immigration issue in the administration’s budget bill.
The march, under sunny spring skies, was convened by a coalition of organizations, including assorted unions and community groups such as Se Hace Camino Nueva York, groups demanding the release of political prisoners and those urging people to “Say no to war.”
The well-attended march, with flags of Colombia, Mexico, Honduras and Puerto Rico much in evidence, along with the participation of members of the LGBTQ community and other rights groups, was spurred on by women banging on a huge drum.
Many marchers carried a flower in tribute to the thousands of workers who have died during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When the marchers arrived at Canal Street, near their final destination of the park on Foley Square and the local immigration office, a group blocked traffic for several minutes by lying down in the street.
Also turning out to support the marchers were a number of politicians, including Congresswoman Alejandra Ocasio Cortez, who – in addressing the marchers – said “We are here to fight for our workers because our workers fight for us, that’s what May Day is all about.”
“We have to remind people, the folks in power, and the folks across this country that working people are immigrants in New York City and across the country. We have to remind ourselves of how far we have come, and we need to talk about what there is left to go. What we have to do ahead,” she declared.
Meanwhile, some 35 other US cities were the sites of other similar May Day marches and gatherings, with thousands of immigrants and workers taking to the streets all over the country, including in downtown Los Angeles, where Evelyn Hernandez, an organizer with the Central American Resources Center (CARECEN), told EFE that the marchers’ direct request to President Joe Biden is for him “not to forget his promise” to get immigration reform approved and to protect workers.
“We were, are and will continue to be essential. The country mustn’t forget that,” she said.
Undocumented Guatemalan migrant Dominga Chiguil, who attended the LA march with her children, said that the most urgent thing for her is for the city authorities to grant permission for her to continue with her street-vending activities. “We have the right to earn our living in a dignified way, but if they don’t want to legalize us, at least let us work,” she told EFE.
At least 10,000 people turned out for the Los Angeles march, according to organizers, with the procession ending up in front of City Hall.
Other California marches were held in San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego and Fresno, as well as in Chicago and in the states of Colorado, Nevada, Florida, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.