Thousands join Chicago May Day rally in support of immigrant rights

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Thousands join Chicago May Day rally in support of immigrant rights

People stand to support immigrant rights at a May Day event in Chicago. Thousands lined the streets in opposition of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

People stand to support immigrant rights at a May Day event in Chicago. Thousands lined the streets in opposition of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Victoria Cabales/The Daily Northwestern

People stand to support immigrant rights at a May Day event in Chicago. Thousands lined the streets in opposition of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Victoria Cabales/The Daily Northwestern

Victoria Cabales/The Daily Northwestern

People stand to support immigrant rights at a May Day event in Chicago. Thousands lined the streets in opposition of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Victoria Cabales, Reporter

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CHICAGO — Despite President Donald Trump declaring Monday to be “Loyalty Day,” thousands of people marched through the rain to protest the president’s immigration policies.

The Rally for Immigration Justice, composed of more than 100 immigrant activist groups, began with a march at Union Park toward Daley Plaza in support of reforming a broad range of topics, like education, the criminal justice system and conditions for minimum wage workers.

Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill.) who attended the rally at Union Park, criticized the Trump administration’s immigration policies and called on people to “speak up for our values.”

“The election of Donald Trump is a challenge to all of us,” Durbin said at the rally, according to Windy City Times. “We’ve seen people coming together. The question is whether we will take this energy and emotion and translate it into political action to elect men and women who will stand up for the values of America.”

Monday marked International Workers Day — or May Day — commemorating the anniversary of the 1886 Haymarket Affair, in which approximately 40,000 people went on strike in Chicago for the right to an eight-hour work day. Latinx workers and local businesses on Monday followed this tradition by closing their shops to fight for fair wages and just hours.

Maya Arcilla, a secretary general of Anakbayan Chicago — a Filipino youth organization that fights for democracy — told The Daily that May Day is an opportunity to strengthen solidarity between various diverse groups.

“Through building coalition(s) with one another, we’ve realized that so many of our struggles are similar,” said Arcilla, who helped organize the event. “May Day is a really important moment to make people aware that we have a stake in this, that we can say no. We have power, we have a voice and we can fight through this.”

Many of the activist groups view these rallies as part of a string of events to promote immigrant rights. Anakbayan, for example, plans on hosting a weeklong peace tour throughout Chicago. Cosecha, a national movement to protect 11 million undocumented workers, said on its website that the May Day strike is the beginning of a series of “massive boycotts.”

Chicago Teachers Union also supported the protests, but decided against a one-day strike to challenge ongoing budget struggles.

“We’re all in this hot, buttery mess together,” CTU president Karen Lewis said at the rally. “We have to stand shoulder to shoulder, back to back. I’ve got yours. You’ve got mine. We cannot allow people to come to our schools and take our children out and separate families from each other.”

Beyond Chicago, workers participated in May Day rallies both nationally and internationally. Other major cities were rallies were held included Paris, Istanbul and Moscow.

“Today is a unity of communities, particularly communities of color that are being targeted by this administration,” Gabriela Benitez, a representative of Organized Communities Against Deportations, told The Daily. “(The march) was amazing; it was beautiful.”

Email: victoriacabales2019@u.northwestern.edu

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