On Oct. 23, Papeles Para Todos (Papers for All) campaign organized a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) themed march, bringing together a broad coalition of immigrant rights activists to make a simple demand: “Vice President Harris, ignore the parliamentarian! Yes to citizenship!”
Participants included CHIRLA, Korean Resource Center, CARECEN, TPS Alliance, United Por Colombia, SEIU Local 721, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, along with community members.
The march was a beautiful procession of skeletons adorned with marigold flowers. It marched across Chinatown, carrying with it the memories of loved ones lost before they could gain citizenship, and eventually laying these memories to rest at City Hall. Chinatown, a vibrant community of working-class immigrants, immediately resonated with the rallying cries of the march and showed solidarity whether they personally celebrated Día de los Muertos or not.
During the march, the Papeles Para Todos campaign made the following demands:
- Override the Senate Parliamentarian ruling on excluding the immigrant rights provision from the budget reconciliation bill;
- Full citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants;
- Pass the full $3.5 trillion spending bill.
Of note, Papeles Para Todos is a campaign of LUNA (Latinos United for a New America), which organized a shutdown of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Sept. 30 to push forward these demands.
At the end of the march many heartfelt anecdotes and speeches were shared, stressing the importance for international solidarity within the labor movement and calling for liberation for immigrants, documented and undocumented alike.
“We are not going to stop for the living, and we’re not going to stop for those who lost their life in the struggle,” said one activist. “This is our home, we belong here. Everybody needs to join, everybody needs to be here,” said another.
PSL member Javier Guerrero spoke about inhumane treatment of his stepfather who was locked up, fed rotten food, and eventually deported, barefoot, to Uruguay. At the end, he reminded the rally of a powerful Frederick Douglas quote, just as relevant today as it ever was: “Power cedes nothing without a demand.”
The Democratic Party in the Senate has the power and the authority to not only meet the demands enumerated above, but to abolish the filibuster as well. However, history has shown that neither side of the corporate Republican-Democrat duopoly that supposedly represents our interests will meet working-class demands until we become disruptive, until we make it uncomfortable and disadvantageous to ignore us. The rally was a reminder that organized mass struggle is the key to liberation. The event also affirmed that a diverse, multicultural, and internationalist labor movement is essential for working-class gains.