USA and the UK
US May Day march
Each year, demonstrators gather on 1st May to mark International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day). May Day marches celebrate the progress made through workers’ rights movements while continuing to demand greater protections for workers across the globe.
This year, however, attention was drawn not only to the need for greater protections for workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, but also to the urgent need for immigration reforms in the US.
At the heart of this year’s May Day demonstrations – which took place in a number of US cities, including Washington and Chicago – were calls to reform several US immigration policies which actively harm migrants.
Despite Biden making vast progress on a number of his presidential campaign pledges to reverse harmful Trump-era immigration policies, there are many he is yet to act on.
Calls to legalise undocumented migrants
Amid the calls for immigration reforms, demonstrators demanded greater pathways for undocumented migrants to naturalise in the US, noting that many have been working in the US for decades but remain devoid of a secure immigration status.
Undocumented migrant workers face unique hurdles when it comes to secure employment, as exploitative employers often strip them of any workers’ rights, knowing that they are too afraid to access legal support due to their insecure immigration status. This has posed significant dangers to undocumented migrants for decades, but particularly during the pandemic.
Many are being made to work in unsafe conditions or are unable to self-isolate due to requiring a stable income. This issue is only exacerbated by undocumented migrants having no means of accessing state support because of their irregular status.
One activist, Irasema Soriano, spoke to ABC Chicago, stating: “They need to find a path to legalize. They work hard. They deserve that. That’s why we are here, to fight for all of them”.
Biden’s plans to provide pathway to citizenship
Despite President Biden proposing an eight year pathway to US citizenship for undocumented migrants, little progress has been made so far on this front.
May Day demonstrators reinforced that this must be prioritised, with the pandemic highlighting the dangers an irregular immigration status poses. Migrants’ rights advocates estimate that there are around 400,000 undocumented migrants living in the state of Illinois alone, and 11 million across the nation.
In addition to these demands, activists attending the march also urged for 2,000,000 deportees to be returned to the US, along with calls for the release and reunification of families at the border.
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