Public Employee Press
DC 37 marches for immigrant rights
Leading DC 37 contingent into 100,000-strong immigrant
rights rally April 10 are DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts
and Treasurer Maf Misbah Uddin. In recent months, millions have
By ALFREDO ALVARADO
Marchers from DC 37 merged seamlessly into the huge throng of demonstrators
who streamed to lower Broadway in front of City Hall April 10 and rallied
for immigrant rights.
The New York City crowd of immigrants and their allies stretching
north beyond Canal Street and estimated at 100,000 joined demonstrators
in more than 100 cities around the country in the massive National Day
of Action for Immigrant Rights.
Sparked by the simmering need for a legal path to citizenship and angered
by the draconian bill passed in December by the U.S. House of Representatives,
millions of immigrants nationwide took to the streets in March and April.
Some 300,000 rallied in Chicago March 10, ½ million in Los Angeles
March 25 and more than 200,000 in Dallas April 9 to protest the legislation,
DC 37 Treasurer Maf Misbah Uddin addresses huge throng.
The April 10 demonstrators numbered 180,000 in Washington, 100,000 in
Phoenix, 50,000 each in Atlanta and Houston and tens of thousands more
in other cities. The demonstrations were all peaceful, and many protesters
carried American flags and signs that said, Today we march, tomorrow
we vote. HR 4437 would label undocumented immigrants as felons,
subject to immediate arrest. The bill would also make it a federal crime
punishable by five years in jail for even family, clergy
and lawyers to give them assistance, including food and water. Wisconsin
Republican James Sensenbrenner, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee,
introduced the so-called Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal
At the New York rally, elected officials and union leaders expressed their
unequivocal support for the rights of immigrants. Executive Director Lillian
Roberts led the DC 37 contingent with Treasurer Maf Misbah Uddin
a Bangladeshi immigrant himself who addressed the rally from the
podium at City Hall.
Those who would label immigrants as criminals, said Uddin, are already
criminals in the light of human decency. He said, Equal workplace
protection is a right and predicted that the road to citizenship
will be a reality for all.
Also addressing the rally were New Yorks U.S. senators, Hillary
Rodham Clinton and Chuck Schumer, Mike Fishman, president of Service Employees
Local 32BJ, and Randi Weingarten, head of the United Federation of Teachers
and the Municipal Labor Committee.
Senate efforts at a compromise bill fell apart April 7 as the Congressional
spring recess began. As PEP went to press it was unclear whether new legislation
would emerge after the break.
Gerald W. McEntee, president of DC 37s national union, AFSCME, spoke
out April 10 for comprehensive immigration reform: Criminalizing
immigrants who work hard and play by the rules is wrong. As long as undocumented
workers lack basic protections under our laws, they will remain vulnerable
to exploitation and discrimination. AFSCME calls on Congress
to pass legislation that will allow hard-working immigrants to earn their
Uddin closed his address by urging the throng to fight like hell
and fight together, because together we will win.