One of the key organizers of the immigration protests and rallies nationwide, including yesterday's in Washington, is a group whose leaders are tied to the Workers World Party, a Marxist organization that has expressed support for dictators Kim Jong-il of North Korea and Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition, which also has proposed a nationwide boycott on May 1 to protest congressional efforts at immigration reform and border security, is an offshoot of the International Action Coalition, an anti-capitalism group founded by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
In a press release celebrating a March 25 rally in Los Angeles against immigration-law enforcement that drew an estimated 500,000 people, ANSWER said it helped organize "a major contingent in the march" and provided logistical support. The march was co-chaired by Juan Jose Gutierrez, director of Latino Movement USA, who also is a member of ANSWER's Los Angeles steering committee.
"We are people of dignity, and we demand respect," Mr. Gutierrez said at the rally. "This is the beginning of a movement that is going to call for a national work stoppage."
Another ANSWER member who spoke at the rally, Gloria La Riva said: "The racist politicians thought they could step on us with their racist legislation, but they have awakened the immigrant giant, and they will feel our strength when we stop work."
Founded three days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the organization describes itself as a "coalition of hundreds of organizations and prominent individuals and scores of organizing centers in cities and towns across the country" that have campaigned against "U.S. intervention in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia ... and for civil rights and for social and economic justice for working and poor people inside the United States."
ANSWER also organized the first national anti-war rally after the September 11 attacks, a demonstration that brought 25,000 people to Washington and 15,000 to San Francisco on Sept. 29, 2001.
The Workers World Party, a communist organization in the United States founded in 1959, describes itself as a party that has, since its founding, "supported the struggles of all oppressed peoples" and opposes "all forms of racism and religious bigotry." In addition to sponsoring or directing numerous popular-front groups, it was instrumental in founding ANSWER through the International Action Coalition.
Its March 25 rally in Los Angeles and its planned "Great American Boycott of 2006" on May 1 are part of a series of large-scale events that the coalition hopes will sway lawmakers to put millions of illegal aliens in the United States on track toward permanent residency and U.S. citizenship.
ANSWER has denounced attempts by Congress to secure the United States' borders and criminalize illegal aliens as "racist," saying all working people should back full amnesty for all of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens now in the United States. It has accused the media, government and corporations of "erecting borders against humans and waging war on immigrant America."
Calling its proposed boycott a "day without an immigrant," the coalition has labeled members of Congress -- both Republicans and Democrats -- as "hatemongers," saying it will "settle for nothing less than full amnesty and dignity for the millions of undocumented workers presently in the United States."
The street rallies and the proposed boycott are seen as critical in keeping what ANSWER has described as "pressure" on Congress so it will not be allowed to "decide how much equality or how much inequality, or how much repression, should be meted out to the millions of hardworking immigrant families."
"Immigrant workers, including the undocumented workers, are the sisters and brothers and allies of all those struggling for justice," the organization said.
The boycott, according to the coalition, means no work, no school, no shopping, buying or business as usual.