> DIFFERENT LANGUAGES, BUT A SINGLE VOICE FOR "AMNESTY!"
> by Paul Lefrak
> MIAMI AUG. 6, 2000 - Jamming the streets of downtown Miami, over 1000 people
> marched and rallied today in support of rights for immigrants and for
> unconditional amnesty for all undocumented workers in the U.S. What was
> significant about this highly spirited protest was the high level of unity
> expressed between the different immigrant groups participating. Although
> the majority of marchers were mostly Haitian and Haitian-American, many
> contingents were present from various South and Central American nations, as
> evidenced by the colorful display of national flags carried by marchers. A
> number of protesters carried American flags. Union hats and t-shirts were
> also visible in the crowd.
> Sponsoring groups included those representing communities of immigrants from
> Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, and
> Venezuela, as well as pan-Hispanic groups, social service and legal
> organizations, the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, the Union de
> Cabilleros (ironworkers), Union de Carpinteros de America (carpenters), and
> Asociacion Campesina (farmworkers).
> Chanting "Amnesty!" in Haitian, Spanish, and English, marchers also
> condemned the discrimination inherent in the double standard of the recent
> attempt before Congress to increase the number of H-1B visas from 115,000 to
> 200,000 per year, a move favored by high-tech companies short on skilled
> labor. This measure would allow a select few college-educated immigrant
> workers to work in the U.S. for up to six years, while low-skill
> undocumented workers--the vast majority--continue to face deportation,
> super-exploitation, and separation of families at the hands of the U.S.
> Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
> Today's rally comes on the heels of a recent victory in the Minneapolis
> hotel workers strike led largely by immigrant workers and a militant
> 20,000-strong rally June 10 in Los Angeles sponsored by the AFL-CIO in
> support of full amnesty for immigrant workers. The labor umbrella group
> finally reversed its long-standing former anti-immigrant position at its
> October 1999 convention. Other recent actions included a large May Day
> rally in New York City focusing on amnesty and a successful strike in April
> by Los Angeles janitors represented by the Service Employees International
> Union (SEIU), most of whom are recent immigrants.
> "We have kept our end of the bargain," noted march organizer Marleine
> Bastien of the Haitian-American group Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami in her speech
> at Saturday's rally. "The United States of America has not kept its end of
> the bargain." Remarking on the unity and militance of the day's action, she
> noted how it signifies "a new day for all immigrants living in south
> Florida." Indeed, a new spirit of resistance is growing throughout the U.S.
> working class. And immigrant workers are once again in the vanguard of that