Hundreds March to Demand Citizenship for Essential Immigrant Workers on May Day
Megan Fountain, Unidad Latina en Acción
Banging pots and pans, three hundred marched to demand a path to citizenship for essential immigrant workers in the streets of downtown New Haven. There were speeches and live music by salsa and mariachi groups on the New Haven Green till 7 p.m.
“People should have a living wage no matter where they come from, their race, their ethnicity, whether they have documents or not,” Mayor Justin Elicker told the crowd in Spanish. “People should have health insurance and paid sick days so that they can care for their families, so that they can support the community. Until we have that, we don’t have a full community that supports everyone.
“We may be essential in your words, but we are dispensable in your actions,” said Max Cisneros of the New Haven Pride Center. “We maintained your society in the worst days of the pandemic, and we deserve equal rights and citizenship. It’s only right. It’s only fair.”
“We want Biden to move forward with immigration reform,” said Kica Matos, former deputy mayor of New Haven and currently Vice President of Initiatives at Vera Institute for Justice. “We are tired of platitudes. I want the President of the United States to affirmatively move forward to fight for legalization, protection and justice for immigrants.”
Undocumented immigrants are disproportionately represented in the “essential” industries that have suffered the highest rates of COVID mortality. These deaths are not accidental, but they have been produced by anti-worker and anti-immigrant policies that have been deliberately advanced at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that immigrant labor is super-exploitable and to exclude immigrants from health protections and safety nets including the CARES Act stimulus payments.
As President Biden makes the case for a national economic recovery that will invest in life-saving public infrastructure, protesters on May 1 responded by demanding a recovery that includes citizenship and full equal rights for the immigrant workers who have sacrificed for this country.
 National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “Honoring The Fallen: An NDLON Report on the Impacts of the Global COVID-19 Pandemic on Immigrant Workers and People of Color in the United States.” April 28, 2021. https://ndlon.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Honrando-a-los-Caidos.-Honoring-the-Fallen..pdf
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