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  • People participate in the March for Immigrant and Workers Rights down S. Jackson Street on May Day in Seattle, Washington, U.S.

    People participate in the March for Immigrant and Workers Rights down S. Jackson Street on May Day in Seattle, Washington, U.S. | Photo: Reuters

Published 1 May 2018

May Day in the U.S. may have lost its popularity as an opportunity to demand labor rights, but immigrants are using it to amp up participation in midterm elections.

While May Day in the United States may have lost its popularity as an opportunity to demand labor rights, immigrants there are using it to demand their rights - and to amp up participation in midterm elections.

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Immigrants and advocates marched in New York, California, New Jersey, Washington, and Georgia today in order to bring attention to President Donald Trump policies that try to eliminate what they have fought for during previous May Day parades - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other immigration protections.

Immigration reform advocates say they aren’t too concerned with low protest turnouts today but are more focused on turnouts to this November’s midterm U.S. elections.

"The Trump administration has made very clear that they’ve declared war on the immigrant community on all levels," said Javier Valdes, co-executive director of the advocacy group Make the Road New York. He and other immigration activists, such as Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles, are hoping that voters will replace more conservative legislators and replace them with more immigrant-friendly candidates.

So far the Trump administration has stripped hundreds of thousands of Haitians, El Salvadorans and Nicaraguans of their Temporary Protected Status (TPS) status forcing them to leave the country, and he is hoping to end DACA, which enables people in the U.S. brought there as minors before 2007 to obtain a work permit. In early April alone Trump’s administration: began investigating whether the government can deport immigrants before they have exhausted all legal proceedings to stay in the country; placed a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, and is creating measures to penalize undocumented immigrants for using certain government programs. This is not to mention Trump's border wall and Muslim ban. Immigrant groups are hoping to pressure against such measures with next fall's elections.

This summer immigration rights, LGBTQ, women and black rights organizations will join forces to push for the election of new leaders, Salas said, adding that they hope they’ll get support from more than just recent immigrants. "It is really a fundamental question about what kind of a country we’re going to be," she told the Associated Press. "For us, the question of immigration is a question about race, and it is also a question about real equality in this country."

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