National Immigrant Rights Strategy Convention Brings Hundreds of Activists to Chicago Area

HILLSIDE, Ill. (August 11, 2006) ­ Hundreds of immigrant rights activists from across the United States, including organizers of Chicago’s huge pro-immigrant mega-marches earlier this year, are meeting this weekend at the Hillside Holiday Inn, 4400 Frontage Rd. in the Chicago suburb, to explore new strategies in the fight for full legalization for all undocumented immigrant workers.

The convention “will involve people from documented and undocumented families, people who understand that what affects one family affects all families,” says Salome Amezcua, a coordinator of the conference.

Expected to draw about 600 activists, the meeting takes place as Congress and cities nationwide consider restrictive and punitive measures that could lead to the expulsion of millions of undocumented workers. Chicago emerged last spring as the hub of the new pro-immigrant organizing movement when two mega-marches there drew hundreds of thousands of demonstrators from widely diverse communities expressing support for immigrants.

The March 10 Movement, named for the date of the first mega-march, is the Chicago organization sponsoring this weekend’s conference.

The convention’s goals include building relationships among activists across the country and exploring creation of a more formal national network of immigrant-rights activists. Participants also will clarify points of agreement on potential solutions to the nation’s immigration problems.

Organizers say activists are united in supporting unconditional legalization for all undocumented immigrants and opposing H.R. 4437 and a companion piece in the Senate, which would impose sanctions on undocumented immigrants. They also oppose border walls and militarization of the border, as well as President Bush’s call for a guest worker program.

“There are many people who want to keep Americans divided and afraid of immigrants,” says Artemio Arreola, a member of the March 10 Movement.

“We believe that coming together is the first part of the solution,” Arreola says, “not only for the leaders of our struggle for our rights, but for the entire country.”

The conference is expected to draw widely diverse participants from California to New England and from Florida to Washington State, including labor leaders, representatives of international organizations, and concerned community residents who will engage in debate on immigration issues.

To learn more about the March 10 Movement, please visit the organization’s English- and Spanish-languages Website, info@movimiento10demarzo.org, or call the contacts listed above.