Expand the rights of Immigrants to include all People

I was privileged enough to take part in the May 1 massive mobilization for immigrant rights that involved 150 cities and millions of people in the US (as well as Mexico and Central America). Our bookstore/cafe, Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural, closed for the day in solidarity with the Great American Boycott. I took part with my wife Trini, my daughter Andrea, my son Luis, and my grand-daughter Cati who joined Tia Chucha's other partner, Enrique Sanchez, and three Tia Chucha employees/volunteers.

We marched with around 1.5 million people in Los Angeles (officially, it's been declared 600,000 people in two marches). I felt the spirit of unity, of peace, of the righteous demand that all human beings should to be free of hunger, exploitation, oppression, and fear. This is the cause underlying this movement, the banner of which is: Full and complete amnesty for 12 million undocumented workers, and the establishment of fair and equitable immigration and border policies.

In the march and rally I took part in, there were no fights. No rancor. No anger. People felt strong and united. While most were Mexicans, there were many from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Cambodia, the Philippines, Korea, and other countries (I saw one man with a sign that said: "Polish Immigrants Support Amnesty"). Most people wore white and waved American flags.

The world is here. The world is at issue. What we do as a country will make sure we are a beacon for smart, progressive, and encompassing change--or home to some of the most backward, mean-spirited and idiotic ideas (including building walls on the border and criminalizing undocumented people and those who help them).

I'm not sure the Senate will do the right thing when they meet again to debate this issue in two weeks. But I hope the message makes an impact. As activists and leaders, we know we have to do more.

I was pleased with the participation of African Americans in the march, particularly the leaders who spoke and helped with security. We need more whites, Asian, Native peoples, and others involved. We need to expand this struggle to include all people. We still have a war to deal with. We continue to have growing joblessness, homelessness, prisons, lack of health care, eroding environment, and rotten schools. Immigrant rights is part and parcel of all these concerns.

The battle to push forward the rights and economic realities of millions of undocumented and documented immigrants should be seen as a foundation to address why workers of all races, tongues, and creeds continue to lose ground economically, politically, and socially.

Capitalism can only ensure the profits of a few wealthy will grow at the expense of everyone else (while everything else goes up and down, mostly down, profits have steadily soared to astronomical proportions). Gas prices are beyond $3 a gallon now--while Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, and other major oil companies post the biggest profits in their history.

All this affects immigrants as it does citizens. At some point, beyond all the racist, anti-immigrant stands and hate mail, we can find the common thread that ties us all in the same battle, the same struggle, with the same conclusion: the creation of an imaginative, healing, cooperative, and truly secure social system to replace the present decaying, profit-based, material-oriented capitalist system.

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