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News and reports

November 17, 2006 | Pages 14 and 15

OTHER STORIES BELOW:
Resisting borders from Mexico to Palestine
Stop the Nazis

Stand up for immigrant rights
By Shaun Harkin

CHICAGO--In response to employers escalating use of Social Security Administration (SSA) "no match" letters as a pretext to fire workers, immigrant rights supporters organized a "Tour of Shame" here November 10 targeting four employers.

Activists visited companies where immigrant workers are being threatened with termination: Jays Foods, Aguirre Building Maintenance, Cintas and Stockyard Meat Co. Throughout the day, around 70 workers from the targeted companies and their allies rallied, chanting "No more no match" and demanded to speak to company officials.

At Jays, management is threatening to fire 90 long-time workers based on "no match" letters, in which the Social Security numbers reported by workers don't correspond with those in the SSA files.

"No match" data is reported to the Department of Homeland Security and used as a tool for immigration law enforcement--and by some employers to oust troublemakers.

"They want to fire us to bring in workers at lower wages," said a veteran Jays worker who is facing termination early next year. "We are worried about retaliating for protesting," he told Socialist Worker. "More people and factories need to come together and unite because we are going through the same struggle."

The pressure is rising. On October 26, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents showed up at the homes of workers employed by Aguirre Cleaning Services, arresting 16 workers. The workers were handcuffed and dragged from their homes in front of their children.

The raids occurred after the workers, members of SEIU Local 1, had won about $300,000 in back pay through arbitration. Workers believe the arrests are retaliation.

At the industrial laundry and uniform company Cintas, management is seeking termination of 400 workers across the U.S. unless they can correct no match problems. On September 23, approximately 80 workers at Cintas Corporation plants in the Chicago suburbs were informed they have 60 days to re-verify their Social Security numbers or face termination.

UNITE HERE, which launched a three-year national organizing campaign at Cintas, reports that many of the workers facing termination are union organizers. Also, Stockyard Meat Co. is threatening to fire over 30 long-time employees.

Chicago Workers Collaborative organizer Martin Unzueta pointed out that "The SSA is planning to send out 8 million letters from now until March. The Tour of Shame was successful but we need to continue to pressure the companies. We're planning more visits with representatives from community organizations including the churches."

The Tour of Shame was organized by the newly formed Committee for Defense of Immigrant Workers and Their Families. Organizers plan to escalate campaigns against companies using "no match" letters and plan to support victims of ICE enforcement activities with a support hotline, a legal team, fundraising for financial assistance and a rapid response network to protest ICE actions.

For information on how to participate contact Martin Unzueta at [email protected].

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Resisting borders from Mexico to Palestine
By Yusef Khalil

NEW YORK--Activists in New York held a workshop in Manhattan November 11 highlighting the parallels between the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and the apartheid wall in Palestine.

The workshop, organized by the Ad-Hoc Coalition for Justice in the Middle East and Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), was immediately followed by a spirited march of 100 through Manhattan with protesters carrying a long black cloth "wall" as they snaked through the crowded New York City streets.

Since 2002, Israel has been building a 400-mile long wall that is preventing tens of thousands of Palestinians from reaching their places of work, school, health services, land for farming and sometimes even family members, usurping large tracts of land from the occupied West Bank.

The Secure Fence Act signed by Bush authorizes the building of 700 miles of double-layer border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Dena Qaddumi of the Ad Hoc Coalition introduced the workshop by noting that the event was being carried out in conjunction with the International Week Against the Apartheid Wall called by Stop the Wall: Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign. Fahd Ahmed and Fernando Reals from DRUM provided first-hand accounts of their recent visits to Palestine and Arizona.

Through moving photos from Palestine and Arizona, the DRUM activists showed the links between the struggle for immigrant rights in the U.S. and the struggle for freedom in Palestine, including the common fights against racist travel bans, against militarized borders, and for dignity.

Reals explained that "migration isn't only about people coming to places, chasing the American Dream, but it is also about people being pushed out of places." He also spoke about the Palestinian children he had met during his recent visit, saying that if we possessed the same level of dignity and courage that these children have, we would achieve real strides in challenging racist policies here in the U.S.

To express solidarity with the popular struggles in Palestine and Mexico against racism and state-sponsored violence, the march ended at the memorial service for NYC Indymedia journalist Brad Will, who was murdered by government-backed paramilitaries in Oaxaca, Mexico, while he participated in and reported on that struggle for self-determination.

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Stop the Nazis
By Robert McDonald

AUSTIN, Texas--Some 15 Nazis were surrounded and shouted down by 500 protesters at their November 11 rally on the state Capitol grounds in Austin. About 150 cops--many in riot gear--protected the Nazis in the National Socialist Movement (NSM).

The protest started at a nearby park, and marched through downtown to the Capitol with chants like "No Nazis, No KKK, No fascist USA!"

The NSM, who did not even have a permit to rally on Capitol grounds, came out in full Nazi regalia, spouting "Seig Heils" and tearing apart Mexican flags.

The police legitimized the Nazis' actions by barricading out the anti-fascists and allowing the Nazis to parade about in the open space between them. In addition, there were more news media surrounding the hate group than there were members of it.

The chants from the protesters were spirited, while the Nazis could offer only feeble fascist salutes. When finished with their hate rally, the Nazis prepared to parade back around the Capitol from where they came.

The protesters sprang into action and began moving that way as well, so the Department of Public Safety officers escorted the Nazis inside the Capitol and through underground exits. Although the anti-Nazi activists circled the Capitol, attempting to find them, the Nazis were too scared to show their faces again.

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