Occupy Wall Street’s latest effort to attract immigrants is a march for immigrant workers planned this weekend in New York City.
The rally, organized for Sunday, aims to raise awareness on immigrant issues and to draw immigrants to a social movement that has largely focused on corporate greed. It takes place on International Migrants Day, a U.N. designated day in honor of migrant rights.
Mariano Muñoz, an active member of the Spanish Assembly for Occupy Wall Street, says that it is natural for immigrants – who are large affected by labor abuse and wage theft – to become part of a group that’s fighting for economic equity. He added that, day laborers in particular, are a group susceptible to abuse –often mistreated, underpaid, and sometimes hired by people who simply don’t bother to pay them.
“The message is pretty clear: immigrants are part of the 99 percent – and we need to call for an end to wage theft,” Muñoz said. “I believe immigrants should be at the forefront of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”
The march is being carefully planned in an attempt to prevent the mass arrests that have occurred at other large Occupy rallies across the country. Organizers, who realize that immigrants are fearful of arrests that could lead to deportation, are redoubling efforts to avoid potential confrontation with police. They applied for and received NYC permits and are striving to avoid areas of the city that the police view as sensitive.
The march will start at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan and end a few blocks away at Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the movement. Occupiers set up camp at Zuccotti Park on September 17 until they were evicted by police two months later.
Some say they hope that out of the immigrant rally comes an Occupy Wall Street that is more culturally diverse and that tackles issues important to immigrants.
“I understand the voices of Latino immigrants are not being fully heard within aims of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but they are in solidarity of immigrant plight,” Muñoz said. “We want to bring them to the table because it’s crucial that immigrants are part of the discussion and decision-making.”
Other Occupy Immigrant marches are planned in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and Boston.
The march comes a month after Latino political leaders in New York organized a walk to try and diversify Occupy Wall Street while it was still camped out at Zuccotti Park.
About 1,000 community members, including black leaders and residents, trekked 11 miles down from Washington Heights to the Wall Street area to take a stand with the popular movement. The city's Public Advocate, Bill de Blasio, and Comptroller John Liu also joined in the march.
Carolyn Salazar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.