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News and reports

October 19, 2007 | Pages 11

Day of action against no match
Immigrant rights in Northern Virginia

Day of action against no match
By Rick Greenblatt

SAN DIEGO--"Do you want to break up families, fire productive workers, and remove an estimated $7 billion from the U.S. economy?" These were the questions posed at a rally and press conference held outside the office of the Social Security Administration here October 12.

Some 80 immigrant rights activists attended the noontime event, which was sponsored by a coalition of immigrants' rights, religious groups and trade unionists, including Chula Vista ACORN, the Sí Se Puede Coalition, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the American Friends Service Committee, the Center for Social Advocacy and United Domestic Workers-AFSCME. Churches in both San Diego and Tijuana also endorsed it.

The event was part of a national day of action against new immigration measures announced by the Department of Homeland Security last month. Thousands came out in cities across the country, including Milwaukee and Los Angeles.

In San Diego, activists used the protest to publicize a joint letter that the coalition will send to the Social Security Administration demanding a halt to "no match" letters. The letters, which have been blocked temporarily by a federal court ruling, would require employers to fire workers without valid Social Security numbers.

The coalition also announced that it established a toll-free number--1-877-NOMATCH (1-877-666-2824)--that workers and family members can call to seek assistance with no match problems in the San Diego area.

Several speakers, including Brookes Ashby of United Domestic Workers-AFSCME, pointed to the contributions that immigrants make to the U.S. economy. Enrique Morones of the Border Angles pointed to the recently approved law that prevents California landlords from inquiring about renters' immigration status as a victory. Avery Wear of the Sí Se Puede Coalition raised the slogan "Una solución, legalización" (One solution, legalization), which was taken up as a chant.

About 10 counter-protestors from the San Diego Minutemen unsuccessfully attempted to shout down the speakers.

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Immigrant rights in Northern Virginia
By David Thurston

HERNDON, Va.--Many immigrants in Prince William County in northern Virginia took the day off work October 9 to oppose an anti-immigrant resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors in July. The strike was the third in a series of actions voted on at mass meetings organized after the resolution was passed.

If it takes effect, the resolution would strip undocumented immigrants of all access to public services, including schools and hospitals. It would also authorize police to inquire about immigration status as part of routine police business, and to turn undocumented residents over to federal immigration authorities.

On October 9, hundreds of workers gathered in the afternoon for a caravan around the county. Pro-immigrant slogans were painted on cars with shoe polish, and several hundred cars set out on a 10-mile drive across the county. This was followed by a rally at the county's Government Center, where a crowd of over 500 gathered to protest.

Ricardo Juarez, a leader of Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, the primary organization leading the protests, estimated that around 3,000 workers took part in the one-day strike, although the numbers involved in the day's public actions were smaller.

Right now, the fate of the resolution is unclear. The Board of Supervisors has voted to approve it, but has not yet voted to fund it--and it recently postponed a vote on this question to October 16. The policing component alone is projected to cost the county some $14 million.

Additionally, a coalition of local groups recently filed a lawsuit claiming that the resolution is unconstitutional. This lawsuit could delay implementation of the resolution or eventually see it overturned.

Meanwhile, the attempt to use economic leverage to advance the local battle for immigrant rights was a first for the Washington metropolitan area. The course of this struggle will be critical to the fate of immigrant workers across the region.

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