Monisha Bansal | Staff Writer | Monday, May 1, 2006
Protesters will march in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to urge Congress not to support a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), which would make it a felony to illegally enter the U.S. or facilitate the illegal entry of someone else.
Calling it "a day without an immigrant," boycott organizers chose Monday because of its socialist and communist roots, according to Lee Siu Hin of Immigrant Solidarity Network. "We're linking workers' rights and immigrant rights. That should be very clear," Lee told Cybercast News Service.
The socialist anti-war group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (International A.N.S.W.E.R) was one of the organizers of the April 10 protests that drew hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants. The group is also organizing Monday's boycott.
"It is a show of political and economic force against the way immigrants are being treated and attacked in the U.S. It is meant to show the qualitative impact of immigrants in the U.S. by their absence, their absence in the labor they produce in this country and by the wealth they produce," Carlos Alvarez, spokesman for International A.N.S.W.E.R. told Cybercast News Service.
"Immigrants contribute billions to the economy and receive few benefits in return. We will settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of undocumented workers presently in the United States," International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s website states.
Alvarez noted that while May Day is mostly associated with the Bolshevik Revolution, the group is stressing International Worker's Day.
International A.N.S.W.E.R. was founded by Ramsey Clark, the man who served as U.S. attorney general during the administration of President Lyndon Johnson and is currently one of the lawyers representing deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Despite the fact that May Day protests started in the U.S. in 1886 when the Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions demanded an eight hour work day, every country but the United States and Canada celebrates the holiday with protests.
On May Day 2000, London police arrested 195 "anti-capitalist protesters," according to the BBC, for rioting and violence that led to the destruction of a McDonald's restaurant.
But its ties go back to communist Russia. The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) is endorsing Monday's boycott.
In 1917, Bolshevik communists led by Vladimir Lenin overthrew the Russian government, leading eventually the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922. While the Bolshevik Revolution was in October, the RCP celebrates it on May 1.
The RCP is calling Monday "Revolution #45."
"On May 1, we celebrate our achievements in this world-historic struggle and especially the first great milestones on that path: the October Revolution of 1917, where the proletariat for the first time seized and held power for nearly 40 years in what became the Soviet Union; and the Chinese Revolution, and especially the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," the RCP website states.
John Keeley, communications director for the Center for Immigration Studies, said Monday's protests will further alienate people who are legal residents of the U.S. Those legal residents, he said, "simply want kids to go to school Monday and workers to show up for work."
"If I were trying to illicit broad sympathies of the very fair minded American public, this would be that last day I would have selected. Any day but Monday," Keeley told Cybercast News Service. Keeley also criticized what he called the "explicit communist agendas and sympathies" of some of the organizers of Monday's protests.
Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said the May Day message "will hurt [protest organizers] if it is widely known, but so far it is a well kept secret."
He told Cybercast News Service that there is "irony in the fact that President Bush is backing these groups' message," a reference to Bush's support for a guest worker program and provisions to allow those who have come into the country illegally to work toward a legal immigration status.
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