Imigrant rally (Ernesto)

05/01/06

Legal and illegal immigrants and their supporters met today at the Yankee training center. Police security was on hand and helicopters overhead. Although there is not one overriding resolution, demonstrators were there to show solidarity for better legal treatment of hard working and taxpaying immigrant workers.

May first, Labor Day most places; a day to remember sacrifices for fair labor practices. Like those Chicago workers of the 1880s, Today’s active labor force is permeated by immigrants, this time more Native American and Spanish speaking than of European decent.

Bernaber Ortega, from Puebla Mexico, works construction and has picked a variety of crops all over eastern Unitided States. He has no papers and asks for some respect for the work he is asked to do.

ACT: “Let us work. We don’t come to fight or to do harm to anybody. We come here to work to progress. We like the US. We are willing to give our lives for a country that will like us, for a people who will love us.�

Bernaber, like others mentions how most of his peers are not attending due to fear of the immigration authorities and of loosing their job. Another undocumented Mexican who only gave the name Eliseo was actually backed by his contractor.

ACT: “He gave us three days to support, if we wanted, and with money … we just took one. We were also with another [local] here in Tampa. He would say ‘please don’t go’. He loved us a lot. We would build a home in a day. ‘Don’t go’ he would say. It’s that he would give us too few hours.“

Many workers are not only supported by their employers but actively recruited and transported to where their employers want them. WMNF asked Julio Godoy, from Honduras, how he learned about the availability of his job.

ACT: “Well, naturally by way of a company.� [Ernesto (reporter): “So, the company recruits you, you didn’t just come…?� Julio: “Yeah, exactly. That’s it�

Julio also added that when Hispanic immigrants shop, they see practically everything translated into Spanish for them. Not only that, but that what they buy is taxed. Again, Julio Godoy.

ACT: “I think that in every article, every item we buy, we are paying taxes. They haven’t really thought about, if we were legal, it’d be better. Think, the people with permits, licenses … how many people could buy their own vehicle, buy so many things. They don’t do it because of those reasons.�

Sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up one of the Doniez brothers, Martin, describes how federal and social security taxes are withdrawn from legal and illegal immigrant worker paychecks, even if they can never touch the benefits they bring.

ACT: “There are 11 or 12 million illegals in the US. All of the illegals are paying taxes and social security. What is the government doing with the money if the people aren’t around to collect those benefits they deserve but don’t get? What is the Government doing with that money? … Were talking about 12 million of illegals. If they take a dollar from each one per week its 12 million, for two week it’s 24, for a month it’s 48 million that they are sharing in to make this country what it is. Despite it all they are still mistreated. What is the government doing? They say that the illegals are costing our tax dollars. They are not costing nothing because they are paying their own way.�

Martin went on to add that he knows it’s the government who has the money because it behooves employers to show how much they are withdrawing from workers in taxes so they can make their deductions.

But it’s not all dollars and cents. There are human issues as well, particularly for children. Pedro Doniez, told a story about what happens when workers go to cash their checks. After taxes and cashing fees their money may not ever get to their families if they are deported.

ACT: “People would go cash their checks and those with kids at home, the kids would never know if their moms or dads would pick them up, they were at home still waiting for them to get home with their checks, but they never came back, because they were taken. And that’s not good. There are kids that are born here, that have one year, seven years here. They don’t know anything about Mexico.�

Many kids, coming up “immigrant� in the US are finding their own voice. Marisol Cruz is a Pasco student who was recently suspended for three days for wanting to show support for immigrant rights. She was upset that more students didn’t participate. She also had a promise for the future.

ACT: “We Mexicans are not dumb, we are going to school. We are studying. We will go to college someday. And, that’s why I want people to know that we too are going to be better here. We are going to make America better. If they need to go to the hospital, we will treat them.�

For WMNF, I’m Ernesto Difilippo.

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