Mobilize for May 1

March     5:00 PM from Union Square, NYC

Defend Workers’ Right to Fight Back

Legalization for all! No limits on the right to strike and organize. Workers can’t fight layoffs, cutbacks and wage cuts if they fear deportation and detention and if laws block their rights to form unions and to strike.

Make the Rich Pay: Decent Jobs For ALL

Tax the rich and corporations to pay for a massive direct government jobs program—expanding housing, education, health services. Budget cuts, concessions by workers, layoffs all deepen the crisis by cutting demand for goods and services. No budget cuts! Instead we need to create jobs and expand demand by taking money from the rich, who created the crisis.

Democratic Control of Finance

Permanent government ownership and control of all banks and other financial institutions-- run by democratically-elected boards. Trillions for bank bailouts just gives money to the same bankers whose policies are gutting the economy. WE need to control the financial system, not leave it in the hands of a pack of billionaires. The people must vote on where we put our own tax dollars.

How can we win these demands?

The same way people in the last Great Depression won Social Security, unemployment compensation, huge government jobs programs like WPA—by mass demonstrations, by General Strikes like those in San Francisco, Minneapolis and Toledo, by sit-down strikes (plant occupations) and by organizing everyone—fellow workers, neighbors, and friends.

“Make the Rich Pay” Coalition taxtherichnyc@gmail.com, NJ May 1 Coalition

NY-NJ Rapid Response Network


More than 200 US organizations so far have signed a petition urging the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to persecute Bush, Cheney and others for authorizing torture and violations of the Geneva conventions (war crimes). The NJ May1 coalition and NY-NJ Rapid Response Network, after discussion on our email lists, have added our names to this petition. The basic human rights of all can only be projected if those who have violated them are brought to justice. The petition is available here and its text follow.

Statement on Prosecution of Former High Officials

We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.

Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations. The former president has confessed to violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

We see no need for these prosecutions to be extraordinarily lengthy or costly, and no need to wait for the recommendations of a panel or “truth” commission when substantial evidence of the crimes is already in the public domain. We believe the most effective investigation can be conducted by a prosecutor, and we believe such an investigation should begin immediately.

Telemudo reports on Rapid Response Network

Telemundo, a major Spanish language TV station in New York, covered the Rapid Response Network as its lead story on the 11 PM newscast, March 24.

Here is the link to Telemundo’s story and video.

Rapid Response Network Foils Princeton Raid.     March 21, 2009

The Rapid Response Network has foiled another raid, this time in Princeton, New Jersey. ICE (immigration agents) came to the door on Thursday afternoon, and when it was opened, they stuck a foot in the door and refused to leave until people showed their papers. But the residents called our hotline, and our volunteer told them their rights and helped to keep them calm, even though the agents were threatening them. After a long confrontation, the agents left and no detentions occurred. This shows that even though we are not getting as many calls as we should, word is filtering out to those who need to know about us.

La Red de Respuesta Rápida previno una redada mas, esta vez en Princeton, New Jersey. ICE (“La Migra”) llegó a la puerta del llamante el jueves en la tarde, y cuando abrió la puerta, unos de los agentes se metió el pie por el umbral y los agentes insistieron en quedarse hasta que los residentes les mostrara sus papeles. Los residentes llamaron al HOTLINE de la Red de Respuesta Rápida y nuestra voluntaria les ayudó a mantener la calma, aunque los agentes estaban amenazándolos. Después de una confrontación larga, los agentes se fueron sin detener a nadie. Este caso muestra que, aunque no estamos recibiendo tantas llamadas como quisiéremos, conocimiento del HOTLINE de la Red de Respuesta Rápida se está difundiendo por las comunidades más vulnerables a las redadas.

We urgently need volunteers to act as Rapid Response Teams, to go to the site of raids, to act as witnesses, and to inform immigrants of their rights. We have set up one team in New York City, but need many more in New Jersey. To volunteer, you need to be either a US citizen or permanent resident, as you will be interacting with ICE agents. Spanish language skills are not necessary (although always helpful). We also need more volunteers for answering the hotline, where Spanish is essential, but people with any immigration status can volunteer.

To volunteer please contact us at info@njmay1.org.

Rapid Response Network
RRN poster

In response to widespread immigration raids, a coalition of immigrant rights activists has announced the launching of a Rapid Response Network Hotline that will give help to those confronted with the raids. The RRN Hotline, sponsored by the NJ May 1 Coalition and the New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee is a 24-hour toll free number covering New York and New Jersey that will provide immediate, contact with Spanish-speaking volunteers. In the event of a raid, the volunteers will calmly inform callers of their basic rights, especially the right not to admit the ICE agents to their homes without a warrant signed by a judge and the right to remain silent. The hotline number, for emergencies only, is 1-800-308-0878.

March 14, 2008 Press Release announcing the RRN.

RRN posters in English: White and black text on red background,   Red and black text on white background,   Black text on white background

RRN posters in Español: White and black text on red background,   Red and black text on white background,   Black text on white background

Rapid Response Hotline operational, needs volunteers!

On March 10, the Rapid Response Network hotline became operational in the New York-New Jersey region. Immigrants faced with ICE raids now have a 24/7 toll free number that they can call in an emergency, and get a Spanish-speaking volunteer who will be able to calmly tell them their rights and how they can avoid detention. Such Rapid Response hotlines, now being set up in other cites, have helped immigrants to fight back against the raids and break the terror that ICE is imposing on the immigrant community.

The Rapid Response Network has already had its first successful response to a raid. A woman called the hotline from her home in Elizabeth, saying that ICE agents were outside, demanding to be let in. The RRN phone volunteer reassured the woman that she had a right not to let the ICE agents in without a search warrant. Although the agents were waving various papers around through the window, they did not show any such warrant.. After some 20 minutes, the ICE agents gave up. No was detained and the Hotline worked as intended.

But we need YOUR help to make the hotline work and be more effective. You can help in three ways:

1) If you are fluent in Spanish, we need more phone volunteers to cut down on the shifts. Volunteers will receive training. During an 8-hour per week shift, calls to the hotline will be directed to your cell-phone and you will be able to help immigrants involved in raids to avoid detention and deportation. Volunteers are confidential and status does not matter.

2) We need a lot of help in getting the word out to the Spanish-speaking immigrant community. We have eye-catching posters in Spanish and English which we need to get to organizations and individuals that can put them up in immigrant neighborhoods. We need help in printing lots of the posters.

3) You can join Rapid Response Teams who, when called by hotline volunteers, rapidly go as teams to the site of an ICE raid and act as witnesses. RRT witnesses will also receive training. As experience in LA and other cities has shown, the presence of such witnesses can deter ICE agents from rights violations (like breaking down immigrants’ doors). Rapid Response Team members do not need Spanish, but since they will be dealing with ICE agents, they must be citizens, permanent residents or on a valid visa. Observing and commenting on the actions of ICE agents or any other law-enforcement authorities is lawful activity protected by the Bill of Rights and by Supreme Court decisions.

To volunteer, please contact us at info@njmay1.org

Documents for Volunteers and for Immigrants

Know Your Rights (English),   Know Your Rights (Spanish).

Categories of Callers (English),   Categories of Callers (Spanish).

Description of the RRN (English),   Description of the RRN (Spanish).

Guidelines for RRN phone volunteers (English),   Guidelines for RRN phone volunteers (Spanish).

Recruitment letter (English).

Guidelines of Rapid Response Team (witness) (English).

Right to oppose or challenge (English). Referral numbers for social services.

Incarceration Rate Lower for Immigrants

A study has found that in California, U.S.-born men have an institutionalization rate that is 10 times higher than that of foreign-born men (4.2% vs, 0.42%).

See the study and press release in English or Spanish. Also see the news article of February 26th in the San Francisco Chronicle in the column at the right.

May 1 demonstrations

Day-after thoughts and questions on 2007 May 1 — a personal assessment by Eric Lerner

First, thanks to all for the work and thought that has gone into the NJ May 1 coalition so far. Thanks in particular to the endorsing organizations :United Day Laborers of Freehold, Immigrants Defense Committee (Newark), People’s Organization for Progress, New Jersey Civil Rights Defense Committee, Philippine Forum, Hispanic Alliance of Atlantic County, Quindanos Unidos por Colombia, and First Friends, but also to the many volunteers from other groups who worked so well and hard to build for May 1.

Despite the small numbers of people participating, we have made some very real advances in New Jersey. We have bought together a functioning coalition with the active participation of a couple of dozen activists. We have started; with the endorsement of Peoples Organization for Progress, to work towards bringing African Americans into the immigrant rights struggle and overcoming efforts to split us up. The meeting in Elizabeth brought in many new people, 30 of whom volunteered for the Rapid Response Network, a very good start for the 60 or so volunteers we minimally need to get the hotline going. In Morristown, the Rapid Response Network idea was greeted enthusiastically by Wind of the Sprit and we were able to talk about it at the rally there and distributed more sign-up forms. So organizationally, we have advanced considerably since we started the coalition a bit more than two months ago.

There is no doubt that the turnout, not only in New Jersey, but all though out the East Coast, was very low. In New Jersey, there were 80 in Elizabeth, maybe 50 in Jersey City, 150 in Atlantic City and perhaps 250 in Morristown a state-wide total of only about 500, 1/30 the size of last years 15,000. In New York there were perhaps 5,000, 1/40 of last year’s 200,000, in Boston about 500.

But this was not the universal pattern. In Chicago an absolutely huge march was estimated by organizers to be at least 300,000 and probably as large as the half-million of last year. This was a day-time march—starting at noon, so the vast majority of these demonstrators’ took off from work or school. (The coalition there used the term “day of action”, not “boycott”, but the effect was the same.) The turn-out in Chicago proves that those who said a repeat of last year was impossible were wrong. It also proves that the immigrant rights movement remains a hugely powerful force in this country. We can not emphasize this too much in assessing May 1, 2007.

In the rest of the country there were some cites with sizable turnout, if much smaller than last years: In LA a divided movement with three marches turned out perhaps 35-50,000, about 1/10 of last year and Denver had 10,000, perhaps 1/8 of last year. But in other areas, turn out was as low as in the East. In Dallas there were maybe 5,000 marchers instead of last year’s quarter-to half-million and in Houston only 100, compared with last year’s 10,000.

After talking to people in Chicago, and looking at our situation, it seems to me that the key factor that determined the turnout was the active participation of many Latino organizations. In Chicago, all but one of the main Latino organizations (which in Chicago are nearly all Mexican-American) that participated in last year’s action, agreed to build for May 1 again this year.

In contrast, in New Jersey all but a small number of the organizations that participated last year did not endorse any May 1 actions this year. This seems to be the case in many if not all of the other areas where turn out was very low. The efforts of the dozen or so organizations that built for one or another of the NJ actions on May 1 were simply not enough to build a sense in the community that something big would happen. As a result, even the endorsing organizations were not able to mobilize large turnouts of their own members and supporters.

I am not sure why most NJ immigrant and particularly Latino organizations failed to endorse May 1 this year. If the main reason was fear that turnout would be small, that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But the example of Chicago proved that when the immigrant organizations united, the fear of the raids could be overcome and a huge turnout ensured.

We can not blame fear of the raids directly. In Chicago, a week before the huge march, ICE agents staged an outrageous raid on a mall in the center of the Latino district of Chicago, locking everyone in and demanding identification. Yet many people at the march said that they were motivated to come by outrage at the raid. When the immigrant organizations were already united in building the march, the raid cased more turnout instead of causing people to stay away in fear. It is a safe bet that ICE will think many times before repeating such a raid in Chicago.

In the coming months, we all must find ways to work together to combat the raids and to continue to build for legalization for all. I hope that many organizations will join in helping to build a Rapid Response Network to respond to the raids and employers attacks. Through these and other efforts we can build the unity that is necessary for us here in New Jersey to have the strength that the movement has shown in Chicago.

Eric Lerner   NJ Civil Rights Defense Committee,    NJ May 1 Coalition

In the News:

March 25, 2009
New report blasts U.S. on immigrant detainees
San Francisco Chronicle

March 25, 2009
Línea de ayuda en caso de redadas

February 26, 2008
Study: Incarceration rate lower for immigrants
San Francisco Chronicle

April 10, 2007
Immigration activists call for May 1 boycott

March 22, 2007
Movement announces May 1 actions for immigrant rights
Workers World

May 1, 2006
Thousands march for immigrant rights