PI Original Angela Caputo Friday May 1st, 2009, 6:30pm

May Day Rally Ties Immigration Reform To Economic Recovery

This afternoon, thousands marched across Chicago as part of a national push to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. Organized labor was on-hand to celebrate the roots
of the May Day march, but the plight of immigrants -- and low-wage
workers in particular...

This afternoon, thousands marched across Chicago as part of a national push to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year. Organized labor was on-hand to celebrate the roots of the May Day march, but the plight of immigrants -- and low-wage workers in particular -- dominated the main stage at Federal Plaza.

SEIU Illinois State Council President Tom Balanoff drove the point home when he told the marchers, "Immigrant workers need to have a road to legalization, they need to have a road to citizenship, or there can be no recovery in the country." Watch it (Full disclosre: SEIU Illinois sponsors this website):

Last year's raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, IA provided a telling example of how the nation's broken immigration system tears apart families. Immigrant-rights advocates here in Illinois have responded by joining the "One Nation Campaign," which is pressuring the Obama administration to call off workplace raids and high-profile voices from the Prairie State have come out in support of the common-sense moratorium. But demonstrators who marched from Union Park to the Loop today reiterated that piecemeal reforms are no substitute for federal laws that provide a path to citizenship.

One such proposal is the DREAM Act -- reintroduced by Sen. Dick Durbin last month -- which drew scores of teenage supporters today. The bill would extend financial aid, work study programs, and a six-year window to apply for legal residency to undocumented high school grads who've grown up in the U.S. and are seeking a college education.

A Tribune article described the scene at today's march:

At 1:15 pm, the marchers began their way into federal plaza, fighting to make up with noise and enthusiasm what they lacked in size.

Sounding at times like a rag-tag cavalry in the soft drizzle with trumpets blaring and drums pounding, they stopped Loop traffic for nearly 30 minutes, their ranks stretching back several blocks.

Here's some video we shot as the marchers headed East through the loop towards Federal Plaza:

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