Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride departs Portland
Sept. 23, 2003
The Immigrant Workers' Freedom Ride bus from Portland departed to join ten other buses on the road to Washington, DC on Tuesday, Sept. 23 after a weekend of trainings, rallies, and send-offs. The Freedom Ride promotes awareness of immigration issues specifically legalization, a road to citizenship, family reunification, and workplace and civil rights protections.
Forty-five Oregonians will travel the Portland route across the country and represent Oregon as advocates for justice. They will call on Congress to change current and out-dated immigration laws. Their send-off rally, held in Portland on Sunday, Sept. 21, and their morning departure on the 23rd featured immigrant workers and allies sharing their stories and reasons for joining this unprecedented quest for justice.
"This is truly an historic event," said Ramón Ramirez, President of PCUN, Oregon's farmworker union, and a rider on the Portland bus, "With the support and participation of labor unions and immigrant rights organizations from throughout the country, we have succeeded in creating a campaign that will bring the struggle for immigrants' rights across the country."
The riders had even more to celebrate on the 23rd as news broke that a new legalization bill for migrant farm workers had been introduced to Congress. The bill is supported by farmworker unions and activists and is said to have bi-partisan support. If it passes, it could legalize the status of thousands of farmworkers and their families who live and work in the United States.
From Portland, the Freedom Riders will travel to Threemile Canyon Farm in Boardman, OR where they will hold a worker action in solidarity with the dairy workers there who want to form a union with the United Farm Workers (UFW). So far, their employer has refused to honor their right to a voice at work.
Inspired by the Freedom Rides of the Civil Rights Movement, the IWFR will prove to be the most significant national mobilization for immigration reform in the nation's history. Over 900 immigrant workers and allies will journey from Portland and 9 major cities - Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Houston, Miami, Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis. Together, the Freedom Riders will stop at events in about 80 cities in 42 states before reaching Washington D.C. on October 1st. There they will converge for the first time and meet with members of Congress. Then, the new Freedom Riders will rally in front of the Statue of Liberty and head to New York for a mass rally at New York's Flushing Meadows Park on Saturday, October 4th. The purpose of the campaign is to focus public attention on immigrant rights and the injustices of current immigration policies