Rally for immigrant rights in Tampa
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05/01/09 Seán Kinane
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May Day rally for immigrant rights in Tampa


photo by Seán Kinane

Dozens of demonstrations across the United States are focusing on immigration rights today. Like the past several years, the rallies are being held on May Day, when people around the world celebrate workers’ rights.

This afternoon in Tampa, on the corner of North Dale Mabry and West Columbus Drive, about twenty-five people held signs saying “Reform, Not Raids” and “Family Unity.” Blanca Gonzalez is president of Immigrants United for Freedom in Plant City.

Gonzalez says that coordinated rallies are going on around the country on May Day, or International Workers Day, in part to honor the hard work of immigrants.

Oscar Salas, with Immigrants United for Freedom in Dade City, blames the media for fueling the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment.

James Preston held a sign saying “Reform, Not Raids” and chanted “stop the raids.” That refers to workplace raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that have led to the deportation of thousands of immigrants. In many cases families with U.S.-born children are broken apart when an immigrant parent is deported.

Lurvin Lizardo works cleaning houses. She immigrated to Miami from Honduras 19 years ago and has two U.S. born children. Lizardo says she’s celebrating immigrants and jobs.

Abelarto Arteaga was born in the United States but his family moved to Cuba at the beginning of the Great Depression. He moved back to the U.S. because of what he calls the corrupt leaders of Cuba before the Revolution. Even though he is a citizen, he says he supports immigrants – including by coming to rallies.

Juan Pablo Chavez is a statewide community organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, one of the groups organizing rallies across the state on Friday.

A similar May Day rally for immigrants’ rights was scheduled Friday in downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park.

Orlando May Day rally

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