Activists renew efforts for illegals

Tucson, Arizona Friday, 15 March 2002

Activists renew efforts for immigrant workers


Community activists gathered Thursday to gather support for renewing efforts to create a guest worker program and grant permanent residency to some 3 million Mexicans living in the United States.

Representatives from the American Friends Service Committee, the AFL-CIO, and Humane Borders, among other local groups, met in anticipation of next week's meeting between President Bush and Mexican leader Vicente Fox. They urged both leaders to seriously look at issues affecting immigrants in this country.

Talks about a guest worker program between the United States and Mexico halted after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The gathering was part of a national day of action by labor and immigration rights activists and sponsored by the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a human rights group in Tucson.

"We can't avoid the issue that these workers are here and contributing in a myriad of ways, meanwhile living as second-class citizens," said Isabel Garcia, co-chairwoman of Derechos Humanos. "We think it's imperative that this discussion begins again."

The AFL-CIO joined the coalition in speaking out against abuses of immigrants, particularly in the workplace, said Jim Watson, community service liaison for the AFL-CIO.