May 1: A Day without an Immigrant
May 1 used to be a normal working day here in the United States. This year this is supposed to change. The motto for May 1 is: “A Day without an Immigrant”. Immigrants in the USA are asked not to go to school or to work – just not doing business as usual during that particular day.
The campaign is based on a movie called “A Day without a Mexican”: one day there is not a single Latino left in a Californian city. This turns the urban agglomeration into a mere chaos because it is the immigrants (very often illegal ones) that usually keep the infrastructure going.
The organizers of marches in cities all over the United States hope that “A Day without an Immigrant” will have a similar effect and make people realize that no one in this country can live without immigrants.
The idea for this event has been triggered by the general discussion about immigration and by several specific incidents. For years illegal immigrants have been employed all over the country and companies make big money with them. While the employers pay minimum wages and don’t have to worry about insurance or taxes, the immigrants – often Latinos – are struggling to make ends meet and to offer their families a better life.
Instead of introducing steps how to legalize those immigrants the US economy obviously relies on, a repressive bill (HR 4437) has been submitted by the Wisconsin Republican F. James. If he has things going his way, even giving humanitarian assistance to an illegal immigrant will be a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
I, myself will probably join the marches in the afternoon. I want to show my support for those whose life as an immigrant is not as easy as mine. I immigrated, too, but my husband’s company is taking care of our visas, work permits, etc. And we came to Chicago because we want to broaden our horizons and have a good time. They come here because they believe living here is the only way they can improve their families’ lives.
In the morning of May 1 I’ll go to work. I am teaching at a Montessori School in the Chicagoland area. One of the most exciting things about this school is that we have a language immersion program in Japanese and Spanish: The students spend half a day in the English classroom and the other half in the “foreign” classroom (note that for some of them the Japanese or Spanish classroom might even be more familiar because of their background).
All the teachers decided to come to work that day but we will also state our opinion. As 95 percent of the staff are immigrants or first generation Americans and also most of the kids’ families have come to the US rather recently we are really existing thanks to immigration. We will collect data on our school’s immigration background and illustrate the statistical data on a banner which we’ll display above the entrance door. We want to get the message across: USA is what it is thanks to immigration – always has been and hopefully always will.