From a piece I had published this month in the Irish Ledger and the Democratic Left on the Immigrant Worker Freedom Rides: This fall, workers, families, clergy, and men and women from throughout the greater Philadelphia area will have the opportunity to participate in a historic mobilization for social justice – the immigrant worker freedom rides, which will bring together hundreds of thousands from around the country to defend immigrant rights from fearful and opportunistic politicians and reclaim the historic moment as one for progress and equality. Starting in late September, buses leaving from ten cities – Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Minneapolis, Chicago, Miami, and Boston – will travel across the country to converge in Washington, DC on October 2 to lobby, and in New York, NY on October 4 to rally for equal rights and reclaim the American dream. The rides have four broad policy priorities: a path to legalization and citizenship, family reunification, immigrants’ rights at work, and civil rights and civil liberties for all. On the way to the capitol, buses will stop at sites dramatizing our national struggle: cemeteries with unmarked graves for men and women who died crossing the border; factories where management has tried to use immigration status to divide workers and keep them from organizing; sites where civil rights freedom riders of the 1960’s were gunned down while fighting for civil rights. Over the past few months, a Philadelphia steering committee has begun planning our city’s role in this incredible project and historic opportunity. Our Philadelphia mobilization will be integral to the national mobilization, and will call attention to the American dream born in our city, to the immigrant legacy of our neighborhoods, and to the modern struggle of immigrant workers throughout our state. We’re planning a powerful event for September 30, when freedom riders from Boston will be coming through our city, and we’ve already confirmed Mayor Street for the day. We’ll also be sending Philadelphians on buses to lobby in the capital on Thursday October 2, and many more for a several hundred thousand person rally in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, New York on Saturday the 4th. These freedom rides, modeled on the freedom rides of the 1960’s, present us with a historical opportunity to change national policy and shift the national consensus. On the national level, these rides are the most dramatic evidence of the historic change in AFL-CIO policy on immigration, from decades of seeing immigrant workers as a threat to jobs to a modern realization that immigrant workers are the natural allies of all working Americans, and that immigration status remains a powerful wedge in the hands of employers only as long as workers allow themselves to be divided. The rides are sponsored by a broad coalition which includes the AFL-CIO, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, and the National Interfaith Committee for Interfaith Justice. We’re eager for you to participate, both by getting involved in planning with us and by showing up this fall to take part in making history.

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