Sunday, May 7, 2006

INB 5/7/06: Special May Day Issue

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 17 - May 7, 2006

Special May Day Issue

1. May 1: "Day Without an Immigrant"
2. Boycott's Economic Impact
3. Northeast: New Hampshire to Virginia
4. Southeast: Florida to Louisiana
5. Midwest: Ohio to Oklahoma
6. Southwest: Texas to California
7. Northwest: Oregon to Alaska

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; INB is also distributed free via email; contact to subscribe or unsubscribe. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe. Immigration News Briefs is posted at


May 1, International Workers' Day--a holiday in most of the world, but not in the US--was celebrated by immigrants and their supporters around the US this year with rallies, marches and a nationwide boycott urging "no school, no work and no shopping." The latest protests came three weeks after a nationwide day of action on Apr. 10 [see INB 4/16/06], part of a growing movement demanding legalization and full rights for all immigrants, and an end to deportation, raids and stepped-up enforcement. Most organizations backed the May 1 day of action, but were divided on whether or not to support the call for a strike and boycott.

"I don't think there are two camps," said Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which backed the strike. "What I see is one big camp with different tactics. The goal is the same: legalization for the undocumented."

Some groups are backing a Senate compromise bill which would include some limited form of legalization, along with increased enforcement measures. Others would rather slow down the legislative process and hold out for something better. "There's a big gap between what advocates in DC are negotiating and what [immigrant] communities are really demanding,' said Arnoldo Garcia of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR). [Wall Street Journal 5/2/06]

As for next steps, the International May 1 Coalition announced on May 1 that it will begin planning a May 19 "March on Washington," which will bring immigrant advocacy groups from across the nation together at the White House Ellipse. [Washington Times 5/3/06]


Swift & Co. shut down its 2,300-employee pork-processing plant in Worthington, southwestern Minnesota, as well as five other meat-processing plants nationally. [St. Paul Pioneer Press 5/2/06] Perdue Farms Inc., based in Salisbury, Maryland, closed eight poultry processing plants in seven states, according to AP. Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale, Arkansas, closed six of its nine beef processing plants and four of its six pork processing plants. Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the country's second-largest poultry processor, decided to halt operations at some of its 34 plants, although most remained up and running, said spokesperson Ray Atkinson. [WSJ 5/2/06; AP 5/2/06] Cargill Meat Solutions, the nation's second-largest beef processor, gave more than 15,000 workers the day off and closed plants in six states. Goya Foods, which bills itself as the nation's largest Hispanic-owned food chain, suspended delivery everywhere except Florida in what the company called a gesture of solidarity. [AP 5/2/06]

In a statement, McDonald's Corp. spokesperson William Whitman said that at some locations the restaurant chain shut outlets except for their drive-throughs, reduced operating hours and employed fewer crew members to accommodate workers participating in rallies. [WSJ 5/2/06] The Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., a chain owned by McDonald's since 1997, said 29 of its more than 500 eateries--including 16 out of a total 36 in Minnesota--were closed on May 1 because employees didn't show up. [Reuters 5/1/06; SPPP 5/2/06]

In the landscaping industry, nine out of 10 workers took the day off, especially in warehouse and distribution centers, according to the American Nursery and Landscape Association. Construction suffered some disruptions. "Most of our members are giving workers flex-time, but the majority seem to be working," said Paul Lopez at the National Association of Homebuilders. [WSJ 5/2/06] The construction industry was harder hit in Florida's Miami-Dade County, where more than half the workers at construction sites did not show up, according to Bill Spann, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of Greater Florida. [AP 5/2/06] Truckers who move 70% of the goods in ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach did not work. [New York Times 5/2/06] Truck traffic at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was off 90% on May 1, said Theresa Adams Lopez, a spokesperson for the Port of Los Angeles. [AP 5/2/06]

Agriculture was especially affected in Florida and California. Lettuce fields in California's Salinas Valley were without workers to harvest the produce, and several lettuce packers in the area closed their plants. [WSJ 5/2/06] The United Farm Workers union said the boycott shut down grape, strawberry and citrus harvests throughout California for the day. [AP 5/2/06] Ray Gilmer, spokesperson for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, said about 50% of workers, pickers and packinghouse employees did not show up for work on May 1. [South Florida Sun Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale) 5/3/06]

Bay Area 2nd Mom Inc., a caregiver referral service in Palo Alto, California, saw a sharp increase in calls on Apr. 30 and May 1 from parents who needed a last-minute nanny or baby sitter, said Chief Executive Shalini Azariah. [AP 5/2/06]

The casino industry in Las Vegas, Nevada, reported few disruptions, partly because many casino owners announced their support for workers at a news conference the week before May 1, and more than 40 casinos agreed to set up tables in employee lunchrooms for workers to sign petitions calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package. Leaders of Local 226 of the Culinary Workers Union, which represents 50,000 hospitality workers, urged members to go to work. [NYT 5/2/06] Local 226 officials said more than 40,000 casino employees signed the petitions on May 1, and the petitions were to remain in the casinos throughout the week in an effort to collect another 10,000 to 20,000 signatures. [Las Vegas Review-Journal 5/3/06]

Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., said the economic fallout of the one-day boycott could be as high as $200 million in Los Angeles County. The estimate, a fraction of the $1.2 billion in economic activity the county generates daily, consisted of business lost on Monday and took into consideration commerce that would be made up later in the week. [AP 5/2/06]

Law firms have been advising their clients that the immigrant labor boycott is protected by the National Labor Relations Act, even though it isn't specifically a union action. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a Philadelphia-based law firm, on Apr. 27 issued a client alert that recommended employers not impose restrictions or penalties on workers' absence for the rallies which employers don't impose on other types of absences. [WSJ 5/2/06]

In addition to the boycott and strike, marches and rallies were held in numerous locations around the country.


New Hampshire: More than 200 people rallied at City Hall in Nashua, and over 100 rallied at City Hall in Manchester. [AP 5/1/06]

Massachusetts: In Boston, hundreds rallied outside the Statehouse on the Boston Common. Several hundred marched through East Boston to Chelsea City Hall. [Boston Globe 5/2/06; AP 5/1/06] Another 150 people gathered outside City Hall in Lowell, a few hundred rallied in New Bedford and about 1,000 gathered in Worcester. [AP 5/1/06] About 60 people, mainly Brazilians, rallied in Martha's Vineyard. [Vineyard Gazette 5/5/06] Ali Noorani, executive president of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said there were events in 30 communities around the state. [AP 5/1/06]

Rhode Island: Police estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people marched in Providence. Some 40% of Providence's 24,800 students skipped school. [Providence Journal 5/2/06, 5/3/06]

Connecticut: Organizers estimated about 5,000 people marched through downtown New Haven and rallied on the New Haven Green. [Yale Daily News 5/1/06] Several hundred marched in Hartford, and several hundred more rallied in Stamford. A large march was held Apr. 30 along Main Street in Danbury. [ 5/2/06 from AP]

New York: In the afternoon, a crowd estimated by Immigration News Briefs volunteers to be likely more than 100,000 marched down Broadway from Union Square. Earlier, at 12:16pm--symbolizing the Dec. 16 date when the House of Representatives passed anti-immigrant bill HR 4437--more than 20,000 people took part in "human chain" actions at sites in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx, according to the event organizers. [New York Civic Participation Project (NYCPP) 5/2/06] New York City education officials said school attendance was down about 6%. [NYT 5/2/06]

In Westchester County, 2,000 people marched to a rally in front of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Port Chester, more than 60 marched down Route 9 in Ossining, and as many as 500 students and others marched in White Plains. [Journal News 5/2/06]

In Albany, the state capital, about 24 Democratic members of the Assembly boycotted the legislative session on May 1 by walking out and holding a news conference in what they called a show of support for immigrant rights. The Assembly adjourned several minutes later. Peter Rivera, a Democrat from the Bronx, said it was important for state lawmakers to exert influence on the debate in Washington. [NYT 5/2/06]

About 200 college students rallied at the University at Buffalo's South Campus before marching to Shoshone Park. Police arrested two rally organizers who stepped into the street during the march. [Buffalo News 5/2/06]

New Jersey: Several hundred people gathered in Trenton, the state capital. [ 5/1/06]

Pennsylvania: About 7,000 people rallied in Philadelphia. [AP 5/3/06]

Maryland: Immigrant advocacy group CASA of Maryland said about 4,500 people rallied in Hyattsville, 300 in Gaithersburg and 1,000 in Baltimore. [Washington Times 5/3/06]

DC: About 3,000 people rallied in DC, according to CASA of Maryland. [WT 5/3/06] Jaime Contreras, president of the National Capital Immigration Coalition, which discouraged the boycott, said about 25,000 people attended seven coalition-sponsored events, most of them after attending work or school. Contreras said about 5,000 people attended a rally in DC's Meridian Hill Park. [Washington Post 5/3/06]

Virginia: About 1,000 people marched in Alexandria, said Jon Liss, director of Alexandria-based Tenants and Workers United. About 600 marched in the Culmore neighborhood of Fairfax County, and about 600 more rallied in Herndon, he said. [WP 5/3/06]


Florida: A downtown rally in Orlando, billed as a statewide event, drew about 20,000 people. More than 5,000 people rallied in the rural city of Homestead, south of Miami, while another 5,000-plus--mainly Central Americans--rallied in the Orange Bowl stadium in Miami and 2,000 more rallied at Jose Marti park in Little Havana, now populated by an increasing number of Central Americans. There was also a rally in Fort Lauderdale. [Miami Herald 5/2/06] About 7,000 gathered on Dale Mabry Highway near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Tampa Tribune 5/3/06]

Georgia: Some 4,500 people rallied in Atlanta, and 1,500 marched in Athens. [AP 5/2/06]

North Carolina: Police estimated about 5,000 people marched to City Hall in Lumberton. About 3,000 people circled the Statehouse in Raleigh, and rallies were also held in Charlotte, Wilmington, Greensboro, Hickory and Asheville. [Robesonian Online 5/3/06; Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC) 5/2/06 from AP, Knight Ridder]

Alabama: Several hundred people marched in the center of Huntsville; about 200 held a silent march through the Tuscaloosa campus of the University of Alabama; and in Dothan, immigrants and supporters marched from a church to the county government building. The strike closed poultry processing plants in Decatur, Albertville and Dothan. [El Barlovento (Mexico) 5/1/06]

Louisiana: In New Orleans, thousands rallied in two New Orleans parks and marched through the city. [El Barlovento 5/1/06; Shreveport Times 5/2/06; The Advocate 5/2/06] Police estimated turnout at close to 2,000. [ 5/1/06]


Ohio: Hundreds marched in Cincinnati, around 500 in Cleveland and 550 in Dayton; demonstrations were also held in Columbus and Tiffin. [Cincinnati Post 5/2/06]

Michigan: In southwest Detroit, a 10am rally at Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church drew about 500 people, who then marched to a noon rally at Clark Park attended by 700. [AP 5/1/06; Detroit News 5/1/06, 5/2/06, some from AP]

Illinois: In Chicago, hundreds of thousands of people took part in a rally in Union Park where US senator Barack Obama (D-IL) spoke, then marched to an afternoon rally at Grant Park. Chicago police estimated the total turnout at about 400,000, but event organizers said it was more like 700,000. [Chicago Tribune 5/1/06; AP 5/2/06] Officials from the Chicago Public Schools estimated that as many as one-third of the city's 435,000 students didn't show up for class. [Baltimore Sun 5/2/06] At Benito Juarez High School in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Pilsen, 83% of the students skipped class. [NYT 5/2/06] In cities near Chicago, 9,000 people marched in Aurora, 1,000 marched and rallied in Elgin, 600 rallied in Joliet, 500 marched at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and 200 demonstrated in the Chicago suburb of Cicero. [Chicago Tribune 5/1/06, 5/2/06] Demonstrations were also held in Rockford, northwest of Chicago; in the central Illinois towns of Champaign, Bloomington (where more than 400 people rallied) and Peoria (where about 200 people marched through downtown); and in Carbondale, in the far south of the state. About 1,000 had marched in Bloomington on Apr. 10. [AP 5/2/06; Peoria Journal Star 5/2/06]

Wisconsin: Police declined to give an estimate of the crowd in Milwaukee, though organizers Voces de la Frontera estimated some 70,000 people took part. In Madison, police estimated 3,000 people rallied at the state capitol. [AP 5/1/06]

Minnesota: Police estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people marched in Minneapolis, despite rainy weather, and another 75 to 100 people rallied in St. Paul. [St. Paul Pioneer Press 5/2/06]

Iowa: Some 200-300 people marched in Muscatine. [Muscatine Journal 5/2/06]

Nebraska: hundreds marched in Grand Island and about 100 held a candlelight vigil in Lincoln. [Lincoln Journal Star 5/2/06 from AP]

Kansas: Organizers said more than 1,500 people gathered at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Emporia, within sight of the Tyson meatpacking plant. About 100 people held a candelight vigil in Lawrence. [Lawrence Journal-World 5/2/06] In southwest Kansas, rallies drew workers from Cargill Meat Solutions and National Beef, both of which shut down production for the day. [Kansas City Star 5/2/06]

Missouri: Thousands rallied outside the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. [KCS 5/2/06]

Oklahoma: Rallies were held in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. [Norman Transcript 5/2/06 from CNHI News Service]


Texas: As many as 30,000 rallied in Houston. [AP 5/2/06] Organizers said at least 5,000 people rallied on Monday at Houston's Memorial Park. Police said the crowd size was larger than that of an April 10 protest when at least 10,000 people turned out. Another 4,000 to 5,000 attended an event at Bayland Park in southwest Houston, police said. [Houston Chronicle 5/2/06] About 200 demonstrators marched in North Dallas outside the office of US Sen. John Cornyn, who has opposed legalization for immigrants. [ 5/1/06]

In El Paso, a march from the Chamizal National Memorial to San Jacinto Plaza at the US-Mexico border drew 2,000 to 3,000 people. [El Paso Times 5/3/06] Demonstrators blocked traffic across the international bridge for about half an hour. No one was arrested. [El Barlovento 5/1/06]

New Mexico: In Albuquerque, organizers estimated the crowd that marched from Tiguex park at 5,000; police said there were 1,500. [Albuquerque Tribune 5/2/06; Rocky Mountain Media Grok 5/2/06] Thousands also gathered in Franklin Park in Santa Fe. [RMMG 5/2/06] The New Mexican reported the Santa Fe crowd as "several hundred." [NM 5/2/06]

Arizona: In Phoenix, about 3,000 people turned out for protests at various locations. [Washington Times 5/2/06] More than 20 people protested outside the closed Phoenix branch of the IFCO Systems pallet company, which was hit by nationwide immigration raids on Apr. 19 [see INB 4/22/06]. [Baltimore Sun 5/2/06] In Tucson, organizers said 3,000 or more people took part in a "Day of Action" at Armory Park which included a student teach-in, a community-services fair and a voter-registration drive. [Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) 5/2/06] Demonstrations were also held in Yuma and Bullhead City. [ADS 5/3/06 from AP]

Colorado: In Denver, an estimated 75,000 people--more than one-sixth of the city's population--marched through downtown. [Baltimore Sun 5/2/06] Several Denver area school districts reported absentee rates at some schools as high as 74%. [Rocky Mountain News (Denver) 5/3/06] Nearly 100 people marched in Telluride. [Telluride Daily Planet 5/2/06] Hundreds gathered at the Boulder Band Shell at noon. [New West Network 5/1/06] A small rally was held in Durango. [RMMG 5/2/06]

Idaho: A small demonstration was held in Boise. [RMMG 5/2/06]

Montana: Small demonstrations took place in Missoula and Billings. [RMMG 5/2/06]

Utah: In Wendover, by the Nevada border, more than 500 people marched 2 miles carrying placards and US flags, chanting "USA, USA, USA" and "Utah, Utah, Utah." [Salt Lake Tribune 5/2/06]

California: An estimated 250,000 took part in a morning downtown Los Angeles rally and another 400,000 attended a second, afternoon rally. [ADS 5/2/06 from Knight Ridder] In the Los Angeles Unified School District, about 72,000 middle and high school students were absent--roughly one in every four. Some 50,000 people demonstrated in San Jose. [AP 5/2/06] More than 200 people participated in a rally on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto. [Stanford Report 5/3/06] Some 3,000 people marched in Chico, according to organizer Rocio Guido-Ferns, a Chico State senior. [The Orion 5/3/06] A rally in Stockton drew about 10,000 people. [AP 5/4/06] Over 10,000 people took to the streets of Modesto. [Message from Xiuhcoatl posted on SF Bay Area Indymedia 5/5/06] Even law enforcement officials estimated the Modesto march crowd at up to 10,000. Another 2,000 people marched a few miles away in Ceres. [Modesto Bee 5/3/06] Some 55,000 people mobilized in San Francisco. [CNN 5/1/06] About 10,000 people marched in Santa Ana. [Los Angeles Times 5/3/06] Later in Santa Ana some people hurled rocks and plastic bottles at police, and several people were arrested. [AP 5/2/06]

In San Diego, some 3,000 people marched toward the border crossing at San Ysidro, where they were turned back by police. [El Barlovento 5/1/06] In North San Diego County, more than 2,000 people rallied in Grape Day Park in Escondido, 2,500 rallied in Vista, 125 people marched in Fallbrook, 300 marched in Oceanside, and 150 students and professors rallied on the Cal State campus in San Marcos. [North County Times 5/2/06]

In Palm Springs in Riverside County, 2,000 people marched nearly a mile to the office of Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), co-sponsor of the anti-immigrant bill HR 4437. Bono, whose Coachella Valley district is 42% Latino, now says she supports a guest worker program that may be added to the bill in revision. Nearly 10,500 of the 16,400 students in the Coachella Valley Unified school district skipped class on May 1. [Desert Sun 5/3/06]


Oregon: An estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people marched in Salem. [Statesman Journal 5/3/06]

Washington: As many as 65,000 people marched and rallied in Seattle. [Seattle Times 5/2/06] A car struck a group of marchers; injuries were minor and the driver was arrested. There were six other arrests. [AP 5/2/06] More than 3,000 people marched in Othello--a town with a population of about 6,000 in the central eastern part of the state. Some of the demonstrators traveled to Othello from nearby towns like Warden, Royal City, Moses Lake and Wenatchee. [Columbia Basin Herald 5/2/06]

Alaska: Organizers said 1,000 people rallied in Anchorage. [Anchorage Daily News 5/2/06] About 180 marched in Kodiak. There were also large gatherings in Fairbanks and Juneau. [Kodiak Daily Mirror 5/2/06]


NOTE: Demonstration reports were compiled from available press sources. Immigration News Briefs welcomes corrections and additional information.


Contributions toward Immigration News Briefs are gladly accepted: they should be made payable and sent to Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012. (Tax-deductible contributions of $50 or more may be made payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute and earmarked for "NSN".)


Immigration News Briefs said...

Between Apr. 10 and May 1, 2006, the number of people who mobilized in 250 US cities is estimated at between 3,324,256 and 5,058,806, according to researcher Xóchitl Bada of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

From article in Periódico Noroeste 5/3/08--see

INB said...

Addition to Northwest Region:

The town of Forks, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, "was the scene of a march by 700 people protesting immigration policies on May 1, 2006." [Peninsula Daily News 8/31/08]