News Column

May Day Marchers Will Hit Streets Today

May 1, 2013

Buoyed by the push in Congress for federal immigration reforms, the May Day immigration march today is expected to be larger than in recent years, organizers said.

Demonstrators plan to march through downtown Chicago before a rally in Federal Plaza to press for action on federal legislation and to call for an end to deportations until a new immigration law is passed.

A broader array of groups is working to gather support for the rally because of what some advocates see as a now-or-never effort to get reforms passed after years of failed attempts.

Among those taking part are labor unions, the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Pentecostal churches and community organizations in both the city and the suburbs, said Jorge Mujica, one of the lead organizers.

"The possibility of having immigration reform is pushing people to do something," Mujica said. "They are coming out from the suburbs again, which is really something we haven't seen in the last couple of years. DuPage is organizing, Aurora is organizing, and they are coming up all the way to Chicago."

Just a few thousand people have participated in the march in recent years, compared with several hundred thousand marchers who took to the streets in 2006 and 2007.

The demonstration is set to begin at 2 p.m. in Union Park, at Ashland Avenue and Lake Street. From there, demonstrators will head east on Washington Boulevard to Desplaines Street and then south to Jackson Boulevard.

The event will culminate with a 4 p.m. rally at the Federal Plaza on Jackson and Dearborn Street.

On Tuesday, union workers and other volunteers across Chicago spent the day making banners and finalizing transportation details.

"People are obviously worried whether this is going to be the year, and we hope it is going to be the year," said Laura Garza, vice president of Local 1 of the Service Employees International Union, whose heavily immigrant membership has been actively engaged in march preparation efforts.

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