On May 1, 2014 there was a march and a rally in downtown San Jose to celebrate May Day and press for immigration reform and the reunification of deported families. It was smaller than last year’s immigration reform rally, but hopes were higher last year for the passage of an immigration reform bill. This year, the focus was more on lobbying the Obama administration and Congress to stop deportations that divide families and leave them destitute.
Two religious leaders opened the rally. The first person was a Muslim imam who gave a wonderful recitation from the Quran. The second person was a member of the Ohlone tribe who originally inhabited the Santa Clara Valley and to remind the attendees that almost all Americans are descended from immigrants, so that we all should be just to immigrants. To pay homage to the original inhabitants of Silicon Valley, she asked us to look to the North, the South, the East and the West . Both religious leaders blessed the crowd for fighting for social justice.
Many people spoke out. A group of union members spoke out in solidarity with immigrants rights and sang May Day songs to honor the history of the struggle for labor rights. I met a few LGBT rights activists who wanted their presence to show that the fight for LGBT rights and the fight for immigrant rights are all part of a larger fight for basic human rights for all people.
I was most proud to see the Pilipino Association of Workers and Immigrants taking part in the rally. The two speakers for the group talked about the shared experiences of Filipino overseas workers who face similar issues as illegal Hispanic immigrants in this country. Due to a lack of job opportunities at home, many Filipinos go overseas to find work and send some of their pay to support family members at home. Many countries, however, do not have labor laws to protect the Filipino workers, so many overseas Filipino workers are vulnerable to exploitation and harassment with no means of legal recourse. One of the issues right now for undocumented Filipinos in the U.S. is in granting Temporary Protected Status due to the recent disaster of Hurrican Haiyan last December.
The rally ended with Catholic Father Jon Pedigo giving a rousing speech to inspire the crowd to persist in fighting for immigrant rights. This showed to me the leading role that many religious leaders have in fighting for immigrants and their families. I end this blog with photos of the rally and quotes from the Old Testament and the Quran on the duty to be just to the immigrant.
Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.
Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.
And know that anything you obtain of war booty – then indeed, for Allah is one fifth of it and for the Messenger and for [his] near relatives and the orphans, the needy, and the [stranded] traveler, if you have believed in Allah and in that which We sent down to Our Servant on the day of criterion – the day when the two armies met. And Allah , over all things, is competent.
Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.
He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations.”
The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigner residing among you.
Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.
“You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.
This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.
Give us counsel, render a decision. Make your shadow like night– at high noon. Hide the fugitives, do not betray the refugees. Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.” The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land.
If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
A youtube video of the Pilipino Associaton of Workers and Immigrants in May Day in San Jose in 2014