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Hundreds March To Commemorate May Day

By aaroncynic in News on May 2, 2014 9:30PM

Hundreds marched through downtown yesterday afternoon calling for immigration reform as part of Chicago’s annual May Day march. May Day, the world’s largest and oldest labor holiday, commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago, where a bomb thrown by an unknown person killed several police officers attempting to break up a demonstration of workers fighting for the 8 hour day. Chicago’s annual march has traditionally focused on connecting worker’s rights with immigrant rights.

Chanting “no borders, no nations, fuck deportations,” a smaller group of demonstrators marched from Union Park to a statue commemorating the Haymarket Riot on Des Plaines, where a much larger group of people were readying to rally and march to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices on Congress Avenue. The ICE building has been the site of several previous protests calling on President Obama to use his executive authority to halt deportations of undocumented immigrants.

“I’m angry,” said Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), to the crowd of demonstrators chanting “2 million, 2 many.” “This should not happen. Eleven hundred families today are being separated due to deportations.”

Organizers with immigrant rights groups say those deported have no criminal record or at least a non-violent one, and deportations break up families. Marianna Hernandez, who benefited from the DREAM Act, told ABC7 “"I'm scared that one day I might not find my parents at home because they don't have their papers.” Father Brendan Curran, pastor of St Pius church in Pilsen, told a story of a woman in his parish who had to cancel her wedding because her husband-to-be was deported.

Dozens of other labor unions and community activist groups joined the march as well, connecting issues like raising the minimum wage. “Workers rights are immigrant rights,” said one organizer with SEIU.