Given the enormous number of organizations that use May 1st as an opportunity to bring attention to issues that face American workers, one needs to make any generalizations about the event cautiously. A Christian capitalist and an atheistic socialist share concerns about the worker from very different perspectives and yet there still is that shared concern.
Similarly, the plethora of groups piggybacking demands for immigration reform onto their May Day rallies may come from a wide spectrum of viewpoints. However, there is complete solidarity that the 2013 May 1st actions are centered on immigration.
“This year hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of worker and immigrant rights advocates will take to the streets on May Day and march for immigration reform” begins the Call to Action email from Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ, 4-25-13). “We need you to join us in you communities to ….call for the kind of immigration reform that will bring about the justice millions of immigrants in America deserve.”
Interested parties can find a pre-organized event in over a half dozen states, can register their own event, buy banners, and download a toolkit for approaching legislators about “real and compassionate immigration reform.” Because IWJ is faith-based, its talking points, as the “toolkit” expresses them, are designed to present “immigration through the lens of faith,” insisting it include a pathway to citizenship, protects the workplace rights of immigrant workers, and creates a more generous visa system.
However, some IWJ affiliates – rather than sponsor their own rallies – are working with other groups. In New York City, for example, IWJ’s Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, is a member of the New York Immigration Coalition, which includes a number of Catholic Charities offices and dozens of other immigration-related organizations. The New York Immigration Coalition is sponsoring a May Day 2013 Rally at Union Square which will march to City Hall for a second rally. It will be joined by various unions and Occupy Wall Street groups, the latter of whom clearly see the day as a militant response to “the labor, social, environmental, and political problems created by market and finance capitalism.”[i]
Boston’s May Day Committee includes endorsing-organizations that are openly socialist – and some that have received Catholic “human development” grants over the years. The May Day Committee wants open borders and will also be marching on City Hall – joined by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), using the same flier. MIRA’s coalition, again, has several official Catholic bodies.
For one final example, let’s look at what’s happening in Los Angeles. Occupy Los Angeles is hoping to shut down the city, joining the Southern California Immigration Coalition's Rally, which is another organization that subscribes to open borders.[ii]
Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Immigration Reform
In addition to local Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) that aid organizations working with immigrant populations, the CCHD approved an additional $1 million specifically to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. This money went to three groups: a project of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) called Catholics United for Immigration Reform; PICO National Network’s Campaign for Citizenship; and the USCCB Migration and Refugee Services’ Justice for Immigrants Campaign (JFI). The latter is a propaganda mission, aimed at the man in the pew. The first supports a variety of programs aimed at assisting people who are in the U.S. without documentation.
The special grant to PICO is particularly interesting. PICO, with dozens of affiliates around the country having hundreds of Catholic parishes among their members, is expected to develop a “grassroots strategies for the promotion of the USCCB's Justice for Immigrants Campaign.”[iii] Calling a coordinated national effort a “grassroots strategy” is a rather cynical comment, even for veteran Alinskyians. But it’s worthwhile to see what these strategies are.
One is PICO’s Campaign for Citizenship which demands “full citizenship for all Americans regardless of race, income or immigration status. President Obama and Congress should move immediately to make citizenship legislation a top priority for 2013 and to make citizenship for all Americans the focus of that legislation.”[iv]
This is as radical a position as the demand for open borders and essentially flies in the face of Vatican – and United States Conference of Catholic Bishop – documents that stress the responsibilities of sovereign nations to protect their citizens equally with the need to protect people who are illegally within a country’s borders.
And PICO will be marching on May Day, too. The Essex County Community Organization (ECCO), a Massachusetts PICO affiliate, will participate in the 2013 May Day March for Immigrant and Worker Rights. Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO), a Missouri PICO affiliate, will be sponsoring a Prayer Vigil for Citizenship as part of “Movement for the 11 Million.”
One year ago, the PICO National Network joined about 90 other progressive groups – including Occupy Chicago, the Alinskyian Midwest Academy, George Soros’ Moveon.org, National Peoples Action, among them – in the Windy City for a “99% Spring Training.” A year later, Occupy Chicago is organizing the 2013 Chicago May Day rally with much the same cast of characters. There’s no Chicago PICO affiliate but there is a coordinated, national effort to push a progressive agenda that grows increasingly strident.
May Day! May Day!
Spero columnist Stephanie Block also edits the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper.
[i] May Day New York City: www.maydaynyc.org/history
[ii] Brian Elerding, “May Day March for Immigrants Rights: Interview with Ron Gochez of the Southern Califirnia Immigration Coalition,” Los Angeles Indymedia, 4-30-09. Gochez believes people are forced to migrate to the US because of American economic policies.
[iii] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Announcement: “CCHD Approves Nearly $1 Million to Make Comprehensive Immigration Reform a Reality,” 3-5-12. www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/grants/cchd-immigration-reform-grants.cfm
[iv] PICO National Network website, “Campaign for Citizenship,” www.piconetwork.org/immigration (this is the page that the USCCB document directs one – see FN #iii) (accessed 4-29-13).