Union leaders, activists rally for immigration reform

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CALLING FOR CHANGE: Thousands of activists and union members turned out of the immigration rights rally in Forest Park.
CALLING FOR CHANGE: Thousands of activists  and union members (top photo and two below) turned out of the immigration rights rally in Forest Park.

St. Louis – “We all come from somewhere else. Immigrants are a part of the fabric of America,” City Treasurer, Tishuara Jones, told nearly 2,000 immigrant rights activists, union and community leaders as they rallied here at the Forest Park World’s Fair Pavilion on Sunday, June 30.

Tishaura JonesJones, whose great, great grandfather was a slave, added, “immigrant rights are the civil rights of our generation.”

Ivana Aleksic, a Bosnian who left that war-torn country at age 3, spoke about the importance of keeping families together. She said, “It’s hard to move – to pack-up everything and go to a new place takes courage. You do it to put food on the table, to provide for your family, or to send your kids to a decent school.”

Immigration Rally 3She called the United States of America, “the land of opportunity, where everybody is different, yet somehow the same.”

At age 15, after 12 years, Aleksic was granted U.S. citizenship.  She said, “We all have a responsibility to fix this broken immigration system.”

‘WE ARE HERE WITH YOU’

“We are here with you,” St. Louis Central Labor Council President, Bob Soutier, told the assembled activists. “The labor movement supports a pathway to citizenship. Missouri supports a pathway to citizenship.

Immigration Rally 2“All Americans living here come from diverse backgrounds and different places, but we are united by a deep respect for those who work for a living and have a shared commitment to the country we call home,” Soutier said. “We need change and we need it now.”

The Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers’ (UFCW) union, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and the Communications Workers’ Union of America (CWA) were among the unions at the rally.

‘WE LOOK LIKE AMERICA’

The U.S. Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill last week, which included a 13-year pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. President Obama has urged the House to also pass an immigration reform bill before the August recess.

Ann Haubrich, the Master of Ceremonies, summoned-up the mood of the rally when she said, “We look like America. We are America. America is a nation of values, founded on an idea that all men and women are created equal. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all people have rights, no matter what they look like or where they come from.”

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