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Immigrant Supporters to Boycott on May 1

April 14, 2006|From Reuters

NEW YORK — U.S. immigrant rights advocates called Thursday for a nationwide boycott of work, school and commerce on May 1, seeking to capitalize on the momentum of recent mass demonstrations across the country.

"I don't think we will crumble the economy of the United States on May 1, but we will make a dent," said New York City Councilman Charles Barron, among those supporting the initiative that was announced on the steps of City Hall.

The coalition of immigration rights groups aims to stop a proposed U.S. law that would make residing in the United States without papers a felony and require building a tall fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Opposition to that bill -- HR4437, sponsored by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) -- has brought hundreds of thousands to the streets of U.S. cities in recent weeks.

The groups announcing the boycott in New York said they had had the backing of the so-called March 25 Coalition that amassed a huge crowd in Los Angeles.

They are calling on immigrant workers, elected officials, labor unions and churches to "take back" May Day, a public holiday in much of the world but not in the United States, where the international labor day has its origins.

Organizers declined to predict how many people would take part, but they aim to demonstrate how the United States depends on cheap labor and to generate more concern for the well-being of America's legal and illegal immigrants.

"We are not going to work. We are not going to buy anything," said Omar Henriquez, head of one New York pro-immigrant group. "They try to demonize us by calling us illegal aliens, but we contribute more to the economy than the miserable salaries that we earn."

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