April 13, 2006

Immigrant advocates convene May 1 work stoppage

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. immigrant rights advocates on
Thursday called for a nationwide boycott of work, school and
commerce on May 1, seeking to capitalize on the momentum of
recent mass demonstrations across the country.

"I don't think we will crumble the economy of the United
States on May 1 but we will make a dent," said New York City
councilman Charles Barron, among those supporting the
initiative that was announced on the steps of City Hall.

The coalition of immigration rights groups aims to stop a
proposed U.S. law that would make residing in the United States
without papers a felony and require building a tall fence along
the U.S.-Mexican border.

Opposition to that bill -- HR 4437, sponsored by Republican
Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin -- has brought hundreds
of thousands to the streets of U.S. cities in recent weeks.

The groups announcing the boycott in New York said they had
had the backing of the so-called March 25 Coalition that
amassed a huge crowd in Los Angeles.

They are calling on immigrant workers, elected officials,
labor unions and churches to "take back" May Day, a public
holiday in much of the world but not in the United States,
where the international labor day has its origins.

Organizers declined to predict how many people would take
part, but they aim to demonstrate how the United States depends
on cheap labor and generate more concern for the well-being of
America's legal and illegal immigrants.

"We are not going to work. We are not going to buy
anything," said Omar Henriquez, head of one New York
pro-immigrant group. "They try to demonize us by calling us
illegal aliens, but we contribute more to the economy than the
miserable salaries that we earn."