Labor, immigrant activists to join forces for May Day march

Labor and immigration activists gathered under gray skies near the Chicago Board of Trade yesterday, pledging to march May 1 and arguing that the nation's economic recovery must include efforts to reform immigration laws.

Workers urged passersby to support the May Day march that will begin at noon at Union Park. The Chicago march will coincide with events around the country timed with International Labor Day.

Labor and immigration advocates are seeking reforms such as legalizing the millions of undocumented immigrants already here and working.

Maria Hernandez, a production worker at Five-Star Laundry, says the administration needs to act now on immigration reform.

"The Obama administration won't be able to fix the economy without providing justice to all immigrant workers," says Hernandez.

Laura Garza, vice president of SEIU Local 1, says the labor movement supports  comprehensive immigration reform because many union workers are immigrants.

"We need an economic recovery that works for everyone," Garza says.

While immigration was a top priority for Obama on the campaign trail, addressing the economic recession has been the focus of much of the new administration's attention.

According to Garza, the confluence of immigration issues and the troubled economy has provided an opportunity to address both issues now.

Similar marches around in the 2006 drew thousands of people in support of comprehensive immigration reform, though efforts stalled.

Staff Writer Fernando Diaz covers labor and unions for the Daily News. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 14, or fernando [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.