SPECIAL SERIES : May Day 2006 Coverage
Student Reaction on 'A Day Without Immigrants'
Opinions differed on the relevance of a day of protest and immigrant rights
May 1, 2006 3:36 PM
SF State students had a lot to say on Monday about what may go down in American history as a memorable day for immigrants.
May 1 marked “A Day Without Immigrants,” a day in which massive boycotts and protests took place in major cities, like Los Angles, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. To show support for immigrant rights, a number of people took part in a nationwide walkout by abstaining from going to school and/or work.
“A Day Without Immigrants” was initially sparked by the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of an immigration reform bill, HR 4437. The bill, entitled the “Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005,” calls for actions like erecting a 700-mile-long fence along the country’s southwest border and making illegal immigration a felony.
At SF State, students, faculty and staff participated in marches and class boycotts throughout the day. The Cesar Chavez Student Center was closed in observance of the day of protest.
“I’m impressed that so many people are making a commotion on campus,” said Cecilia Zamora, a sociology major. “They’re causing a lot of waves here, so I think it’s a great thing.”
A political science and Arabic double major, Robert Burrell-Smith, wanted to show his support but could not because his teachers held classes, and he feared his grades would suffer if he didn’t show up.
Burrell-Smith doubted a single day of protesting would have any impact.
“One day isn’t really gonna change anything,” said Burrell-Smith. “It’s one thing if all illegals wouldn’t show up to work.”
Elena Winoto also did not participate in class boycotts. Like Burrell-Smith, Winoto didn’t think a day of rallies would have an effect on issues surrounding immigrants.
“It’s good for [students] to express their views, but I don’t know if it will make a difference,” said Winoto, who is studying design.
Other students, like April Simoni, is not participating in class walkouts, however, her professor canceled class when he learned that almost half of the students were not planning to attend.
Simoni, a junior in nursing, added that the boycott was reflective of the campus community.
Diana Miller, a 24 year-old psychology major, has family members who are immigrants, but did not state whether they are documented.
“I don’t think [undocumented immigrants] should be considered felons,” said Miller.
Cynthia Ugarte, an office administrator of SF State’s Office of International Programs, stepped outside to join the rally on campus. Campus protesters were not only showing their disapproval of HR 4437, but also calling for amnesty for every undocumented immigrant.
“If [HR 4437] passes, it would be harder for them to get a visa…Whether you come as a tourist or an international student, it might affect you,” said Ugarte.
A.J. Weissmiller, a member of SF State’s College Republicans, wanted to see the immigration reform bill passed and like Ugarte, saw the vast effect the bill would have on this country.
“If we gave free amnesty to everybody, do you know how many people would come across the border,” asked Weissmiller.
Vera Chen, a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) student, also does not agree with those who want to reprieve undocumented immigrants. According to Chen, complete amnesty for undocumented immigrants would diminish all the work legal immigrants have to do to come here.
By not going to work and school or spending money, undocumented immigrants and their supporters also wanted to show the economic power that immigrants have.
“If their message (today) is, ‘We contribute to this economy and we want to show that to people,’ that’s great…If they’re saying, ‘We’re against HR 4437,’ that’s idiotic,” said Weissmiller.
Student Thoughts On "A Day Without Immigrants"
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