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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Thousands Rally in Boston For Immigrant Rights

Last Monday, an estimated 7,000 people gathered in Boston Common for a rally and a proceeding march down Tremont St. to defend immigrant rights. Boston’s rally was one of many, as others protested in Los Angeles (the largest in L.A. history, where almost 1 million marched), Chicago, Milwaukee, and several other cities across the country. Despite the rally organizers’ expectancy of hundreds of people, thousands showed up and continued to pour into the Common well into the rally, which had begun around 5:00 p.m.

The demonstration was composed of a diverse crowd, with people ranging from toddlers to senior citizens. According to www.Boston.IndyMedia.org, “The Boston crowd was riddled with flags representing multiple countries from the American continent, including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, and the United States. People from all ages, many with kids and infants, were there to demand their rights.”

Some of the protesters’ demands included the legalization, not criminalization, of immigrations. The recent demonstrations are in response to the immigrant legislation undergoing debate in Congress, which is seen as an attack on immigrant workers by many. The bill HR 4437 would declare undocumented immigrants “aggravated felons”. In addition to the “aggravated felons” charge, HR 4437 would declare, “any family member, church, school, employer, hospital, or service organization that helps an undocumented immigrant would be subject to arrest, imprisonment, and fines (MIRA Coalition).” Previously, such activity was declared a misdemeanor. As huge crowds of immigrants and immigrant supporters listened to speakers at the rally, signs sprouted from the crowd, reading “We Are Not Criminals” and “We are all Immigrants”.

One Bostonian passerby commented, “This isn’t the answer”, nodding at the crowd of protesters beginning to march. “Immigrants flood the labor pool and drive wages down.” On the other hand, another protester stated, “Immigrant workers, youth, and families already face a hard life everyday, with little access to good jobs, education, and health care. In return, they receive low wage and few benefits, often working long hours in harsh conditions.”

Congress isn’t the only arena debating the immigrant legislation. The Internet is a breeding ground for exchanging ideas. According to a posting on a discussion forum at www.Boston.IndyMedia.org, “Undocumented immigrants pay taxes. Many of them pay into social security in every paycheck. They pay sales taxes on every purchase. They pay rent, part of which ends up as tax revenue.” Another stated, “Immigrants cross the border illegally out of desperation, not out of a desire to do something illegal or work illegally in this country.”

In response to the demonstrations, Ali Noorani, the executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition commented, “Over the past two weeks hundreds of thousands of immigrants have taken to the streets in support of immigration reform. These are real people who believe in America and who want to make America better.”

The rally and march were organized by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) and by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), along with several community based organizations across Massachusetts.

Proceeding the rally, protesters marched along Tremont St. into the sunset chanting, “Aqui estamos y no nos vamos”, which is Spanish for, “We’re here now and we’re not leaving”. A National Day of Action to defend immigrant rights is in the works for Monday April 10th. For more information visit www.miracoalition.com.