Immigrants march and ask for an amnesty for all!

At least three thousand marchers marched through the downtown streets of Los Angeles to renew their fight for legalization, the right to citizenship, unionization and the right to decent housing.

Within the framework of May 1, International Workers' Day, numerous contingents -mainly unions- participated in the march with the theme "Solidarity is power".

“We seek justice for everyone and in particular for those who died fighting during the pandemic and who were looking for a better future,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA), an organizing entity for the the march that concluded in the Grand Park.

With banners in hand, the protesters showed their support for the bill HR 1511, introduced in March by the Democratic congresswoman from California, Zoe Lofgren, which would benefit some 83 million people potentially eligible to adjust their immigration status if the date of registration is brought forward to January 1, 2016.

Thousands of immigrants march for immigration reform in downtown LA.

The bill would include 7.3 million undocumented people who have lived in the United States for an average of 19 years.

In addition, they appreciated the efforts of federal senator Alex Padilla, who a few days ago reintroduced the Fair Immigrant Adjudications Act, in order to eliminate “unfair” barriers to naturalization and prevent the deportation of immigrants based on a previously dismissed criminal conviction. or pardoned.

The legislative measure has been endorsed by Representatives Adriano Espaillat (D/New York) and Joaquín Castro D/Texas).

In particular, the bill would ensure that past criminal convictions that have been expunged, vacated, or pardoned by the sentencing court and no longer block immigrants on the path to citizenship, do not weigh against an immigrant in proceedings. of deportation.

“Our outdated immigration laws have put the American Dream out of reach by making it nearly impossible for immigrants, especially those with settled charges or convictions, to become US citizens,” Senator Padilla said in a statement.

“We must ensure that our immigration system is fair and that a previously dismissed charge or a pardoned conviction does not prevent an immigrant from naturalizing or considering removal decisions.”

Immigrant party in Los Angeles

From the historic intersection of Broadway Street and Olympic Boulevard, under the banner of the May Day Coalition, the noisy contingents caused enormous traffic chaos for motorists leaving work in the afternoon.

“The streets belong to the town, where is the town? The people are in the streets demanding freedom!!”; and "The united people will never be defeated!" or “When we fight, we win!” were some of the chants sung by thousands of Los Angeles workers.

"In Los Angeles we face big problems such as the high cost of rent, the lack of good jobs that pay good salaries," said councilman Hugo Soto-Martínez (District 13), to La Opinión.

"Our workers continue to suffer wage theft, and they are not paid overtime or when they have to take rest."

The son of Mexican immigrants from Zacatecas (Agustín Soto and Ángela Martínez), the official highlighted the problems of thousands of Latino families who are on the verge of being left homeless if they are evicted from their homes for not being able to pay the rental debt accumulated during the pandemic.

Although the numbers are not precise, he considered that in Los Angeles County there are some 600,000 families in the process of being evicted.

“We need more housing and the immigration system to be fixed,” said Blanca Carias, SEIU 2015 vice president. “We also need jobs with better wages and benefits.”

The vendors' fight
Among the variety of issues the protesters championed was the obstacles faced by thousands of street workers and members of the Los Angeles Community Power Collective (CPC), newly formed in 2020 as an independent organization that advocates for the interests and rights of tenants and low-income workers.

“Our fight is currently focused on the right to sell in no-sell zones that the city of Los Angeles imposed,” said Águeda Didley-Berrios, a CPC activist. "We want street vending to be freed, especially in non-vending areas, they are discriminatory."

The CPC filed a lawsuit against the city for imposing limits on food sales within 500 feet of certain Los Angeles neighborhoods and tourist attractions such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Call for general amnesty

On a cloudy morning, the first march called by the Full Rights Coalition for Immigrants, led by Juan José Gutiérrez, gathered less than a hundred people.

But, although popular participation was minimal, they made it clear that 11.3 million undocumented immigrants demand a general amnesty from Congress and the President of the United States.

“A full amnesty means having a seat at the (power) table, a voice in government, living wages, the right to vote, and legal permanent residency,” immigration attorney Judy Moore described.

He added that the "general amnesty" should include the restoration of the right to request a suspension of deportation and the repeal of immigration laws that punish individuals who have traveled to Mexico to attend a funeral or a wedding.

A large part of the participants were Angelenos related to the ideology of the Morena Party, the Mexican president, Manuel Andrés López Obrador and others from the Labor Party (PT).

In fact, with the next presidential election in that country, in 2024, some distributed flyers with the figure of the sociologist and politician Gerardo Fernández Noroña, who could run as a candidate for the PT.

"Noroña is a town," said one of the supporters of the Mexican congressman, who declined to identify himself.

The procession set off after a display of trained white doves, which raised their wings to the wind, in front of images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and Santo Toribio, the patron saint of Mexican immigrants.

Participation vital

Before parading down Broadway Street, Juan José Gutiérrez, executive director of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, told La Opinión that it was vital that migrants understand the provisions of the Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security ( DHS), which announced strong new measures to further reduce illegal migration to the United States, while expanding lawful avenues for protection and the safe, orderly, and humane prosecution of individuals.

Indeed, at the end of April, the government of President Joe Biden announced the extension of the family reunification parole for migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia, and that it will expeditiously expel migrants who try to reach to the United States by sea, or on foot across the southern border with Mexico.

At the same time, the federal government assured that it will maintain the "parole" (conditional release) for Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, which allows the entry of 30,000 people a month to the United States.

Said expansion of the program, -after a case-by-case review- will also include a work permit.

All this occurs under the framework of the end - on May 11 - of Title 42, imposed by former President Donald Trump to prevent the entry of migrants seeking asylum during the pandemic. It is estimated that Trump deported an average of 240,000 people per year.

“The people must understand that the Biden Administration is already making concessions so that its image is not damaged, now that the presidential elections are coming [en 2024]”, Gutiérrez told La Opinión. “And, we who are on this other side, have to assimilate the lesson that our brothers who have come in caravans risk everything; many stay on the road and many die like the 40 who burned to death in a shelter in Ciudad Juárez.”

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