May 1 is a special date for immigrant workers in the United States, who mix the tradition of celebrating International Workers’ Day with the case for the regularization of undocumented immigrants. This is a special year, since both the valorization of workers and the protection of millions of workers against deportation are central issues to the current political debate.
This day became a labor holiday due to the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, which claimed the lives of many workers on May 4, 1886. President Grover Cleveland rejected the idea of the May 1 labor celebration because of its proximity to the massacre’s date, opting the next year for the September date that is still commemorated today. This is how May 1, which was remembered in the U.S. by a minority considered part of anarchist and extreme left groups, became a rallying point for immigrants demanding the workers’ most crucial right: to work without fear of being removed from the country.
It is very difficult to disassociate work conditions with the migratory situation in the Latino
The migrant worker is the most vulnerable in a system where the labor sector’s input is much less valued than that of the executive sector. This has resulted in a redistribution of income and profits which, for the past decades, has tilted against the worker. Hence the extremely serious problem of a minimum wage that entails much less purchasing power than before, preventing the worker from leaving poverty. This is a crucial issue for the worker, as well as for the economy, which also needs his purchasing power.
The migrant worker, because of being undocumented, also has to face the most hard and dangerous work conditions, from construction to agriculture. In many cases, without adequate legal protections. DAPA, in lack of a comprehensive reform, provides those workers some protection, which now hangs in the balance because of political pressure.
May 1 in the U.S. is the day to advocate for the workers to be rest assured that they will not be deported, and that they will not be victims of employers who take advantage of their lack of papers.