This May 1st, immigrant communities and citizens alike will hit the streets to say no to Arizona's new "show me your papers law" and yes to real, federal action on immigration reform this year. Eighty cities across the country are gearing up for major rallies, marches, and protests tomorrow. Students who had come in from New York, Florida, and California to participate in the Washington protests led their own action in front of Governor Jan Brewer's DC office today. They chanted, "Arizona, Shame On You! Immigrants Are People, Too!"
Tomorrow's marches are a follow-up to the major March for America: Change Takes Courage, which drew over 200,000 people to the National Mall on March 21st. At that event, President Obama delivered a firm message promising he'd work on comprehensive immigration reform "this year." Now, with Arizona's new law driving already-desperate communities into action, we're likely to see events in Chicago, New York, and L.A. turn out tens of thousands of people.
At the DC event, 40 protesters will go so far as to risk arrest, practicing peaceful civil disobedience in the face of cynical Washington politics.
Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change, writes today at Huffington Post:
Tomorrow, there will be over 80 demonstrations in favor of immigration reform across America. One of them will be in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House. There, some 40 dignitaries including a member of Congress, clergy, heads of organizations and community leaders will likely be arrested in acts of civil disobedience against unjust immigration enforcement and the political cowardice in addressing our broken immigration system. I will be one of those getting arrested.
I am willing to get arrested tomorrow because the massive deportations being undertaken by the Obama Administration are tearing apart families, separating children from their parents, risking the lives of disabled immigrants and vulnerable refugees, and spreading terror into our communities. I will be arrested because America needs to understand immigration reform is not merely a political issue; our broken system is a moral disaster unfolding in our nation. Civil disobedience is important at this point because it signals to our leaders that the current situation is so unjust and unsustainable that people are no longer willing to comply or be complicit in the injustices committed by our government.
Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who just announced that he intends to join in the civil disobedience, released this statement:
We have to keep the pressure on and let the President and Congress know we need immigration reform this year," the Congressman said Friday. "I am joining the rally in Washington because the effort to get immigration reform passed is escalating, the attacks on immigrants and immigration reform are escalating, and the Arizona law is a wake-up call that inaction at the federal level has huge consequences for communities, families, and individuals.
WHAT: Rally for Immigration Reform
WHEN: Saturday May 1, at 2:00 p.m. ET (music program starts at 1:30 p.m.)
WHERE: Lafayette Square, (across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House)
In addition to civil disobedience, many May Day events will feature celebrities who are taking a stand against what happened in Arizona. Via Perez Hilton:
And if you're lucky enough to be in Los Angeles this weekend, go be a part of their march with guests like Gloria and Emilio Estefan also taking part!
It's not just a hispanic issue, it's one that affects everyone regardless of their background.
Last but not least, students who've walked 1,500 miles on what they are calling the "Trail of Dreams" will be a major part of the Washington, DC event. Watch their stories: