LOS ANGELES – “No one is illegal!” chanted over 10,000 union members, students, youth and community activists demanding legalization for undocumented immigrant workers in the largest May Day/International Workers Day turnout here in years.

Marching through downtown at twilight, participants held banners denouncing Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) attacks on immigrants since Sept. 11, including roundups at Los Angeles Airport and throughout Southern California. Marchers protested the detention of hundreds of Arab and Muslim immigrants and anti-labor homeland security rules that will force thousands of noncitizens from their jobs as airport security workers, as well as the recent anti-immigrant-worker Supreme Court decision.

Earlier in the day, two rallies by hundreds of janitors and homecare workers from the Service Employees International Union and their supporters demanded that President Bush support legalization of undocumented immigrants.

Speakers at all three actions said that, although immigrant rights gains are being rolled back under the Bush administration, they are determined to keep the fight going.

“We are here once again, like in the past, to fight for the rights of immigrants,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, former Speaker of the State Assembly and long-time immigrant rights leader.

Fabian Nunez, former political director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and Assemblymember-elect, said of immigrant workers, “You have made this state and nation rich with your sweat; it is only just that your work be recognized.”

The march started in the L.A. garment district, where thousands of immigrants toil in sweatshops. Workers stuck their heads out of windows shouting support with clenched fists. Led by Aztec dancers and Korean drummers, the marchers headed to the Federal Building for a rally and candlelight vigil.

The march and rally, initiated by the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights in Los Angeles and a multi-ethnic coalition, drew endorsement from over 80 unions and organizations including the L.A. County Federation of Labor and groups from the Latino, Korean, Filipino, African-American and Arab-American communities.

Ray Leos can be reached at RayLeos@aol.com; Evelina Alarcon can be reached at EvnAlarcon@aol.com

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