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May Day Protest Plans Build Across NM

People across New Mexico are getting ready to hit the streets for International Workers Day on May 1. (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
People across New Mexico are getting ready to hit the streets for International Workers Day on May 1. (Wikimedia/Creative Commons)
April 24, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. -- The international observance of May Day on May 1 will get a boost in participation across New Mexico from working-class families feeling the impact of the current political climate, both at the state and federal levels.

Immigrants make up 10 percent of New Mexico's population and their highest concentration is in the rural workforce, according to Neza Leal, communications coordinator at the human rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido. He said May Day is an opportunity to show the value and power of those workers in the Land of Enchantment, regardless of their documentation status.

"Immigrants are an essential part of New Mexico and especially its rural communities,” Leal said. "And so on that day, you know, we're rising up to protect not only our families, but the very future of our rural communities here in the state. "

May Day began in Chicago in 1886, when a general strike by trade unions paved the way for the eight-hour workday. It is also known as International Workers Day, with rallies, marches and vigils, and this year, even some walkouts are planned from schools and workplaces.

Leal said these public events might draw risk of immigration enforcement for people who are undocumented, except that many New Mexico communities have sanctuary policies in place. They've pledged not to go out of their way to enforce federal deportation policies.

Leal said he isn't deterred by such political pressure, and neither is his community.

"Immigrant workers from New Mexico have a lot of experience fighting for their rights and defending their families,” he said. "And so on May Day, we're rising up with our allies to say, 'Enough is enough.'"

Somos will be joined by AFL/CIO and other organizations, and Leal said they expect record numbers at events across the country this year. New Mexico May Day events are planned for Albuquerque, Clovis, Gallup, Hobbs and Santa Fe.

Brett McPherson, Public News Service - NM