[Marxism] Immigration rights protest in Newburgh, NY

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Apr 1 17:02:10 MST 2006

(From my hometown newspaper upstate. Should give you an idea of the depth 
and the breadth of this new movement.)

Middletown Herald-Record April 01, 2006

Latino students march
NFA students walk out of classes

By John Doherty
Times Herald-Record
jdoherty at th-record.com

Gallery: NFA students protest immigration bill

Newburgh - At 18, Jose Tobon says he knows his place in the pecking order.

"My father works at a factory in Harriman. We make up the lower classes," 
said Tobon, a senior at Newburgh Free Academy.

"We do the jobs no one else wants to do."

Watching this week's demonstrations of Latino immigrant pride and protests 
over possible harsh new immigration laws, Tobon thought locally. Job and 
school walkouts were popping up all over the country.

By noon yesterday, the word had spread.

More than 100 Latino students at NFA walked out of class, chanting slogans 
and waving the flags of Mexico, Honduras and Peru. They hoped to connect 
this corner of immigrant America with the rest of it.

"We may not be American citizens, but we have human rights," said Daniel 
Lopes, 17, as the trail of students snaked toward Broadway.

Lopes ticked off the ways in which local Latinos, some here illegally, 
differ from the families of fellow NFA students.

"Most of us are not citizens: no licenses; no health benefits; no Social 
Security," he said.

Of the proposals before Congress that would map out a path to legal status 
for undocumented workers, Lopes said: "Anything is better than nothing."

NFA Principal Peter Copeletti said rumors of the walkout had reached the 
administration's ears by mid-morning. Students who left would be counted as 
truant, he said, but the school did not try to bar them from leaving.

Police stopped traffic at intersections, letting the students make their 
way past Downing Park, onto Broadway and down toward the Hudson River.

"They want to send us back," said Bernice Aguillar, 15, whose mother 
emigrated from Mexico 20 years ago.

"We do their cleaning, we fix their cars, we do all that crap. Bush thinks 
nothing of us," Aguillar said.

Newburgh is a city where 72 percent of the residents are black or Hispanic. 
Latino residents have the slight edge.

But as the students chanted "Latinos, stand up," and "We're not criminals," 
few observers could remember such a display of Latino pride.

"You know what? America is built on that: struggle," said Charles 
Kimbrough, 40. Kimbrough's cellular phone store is one of a handful of 
black-owned businesses along Liberty Street.

"I understand what these kids are saying," he said. "You shouldn't have to 
be born here to get an opportunity here."

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