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April 10 and May 1: Korean Americans in the Immigrant Rights Movement

By May 11, 2006 No Comments

Once again, immigrant communities are sending waves throughout the nation. Following large-scale mass mobilizations in March, immigrant communities organized a range of actions from marches to community forums in April and May to call for humane immigration reform and oppose anti-immigrant legislation, such as H.R. 4437. NAKASEC and its affiliates continue to ensure the strong participation of the Korean American community in the numerous actions. As part of the burgeoning immigrant rights movement, the Korean American voice has remained steadfast and strong.

April 10, 2006
On April 10, in more than 100 cities nationwide more than a million people marched in the streets as part of the National Day of Action.

More than 10,000 people in Los Angeles began the day with a rally at the “birthplace of Los Angeles,” La Placita, and continued with a procession through Chinatown, downtown Los Angeles, and ended near City Hall. The Korean Resource Center’s drumming troupe led the energetic Korean American contingent in the march.The event also brought together diverse immigrant religious and community leaders who reiterated the need for immigration reform that treats all people with humanity and dignity. Included among the speakers was Hye Bon Kim, a Buddhist monk who spoke on her experiences as an immigrant from Korea and Eunice Lee, a student who spoke on the urgent need for the DREAM Act, a legislation that would provide a brighter future for undocumented immigrant students.

In New York, YKASEC – Empowering the Korean American Community rallied in Lippman Plaza in Flushing, NY, an area with many Korean American residents and businesses.The group traveled to Washington Square Park in Manhattan, joining other Korean American community organizations and members. YKASEC’s drumming troupe ranging in age from young adult to senior citizens roused the contingent of more than 300 Korean Americans.The Korean American group marched to join the 300,000 New Yorkers headed to City Hall.

The Korean American Resource and Cultural Center in Chicago participated in a Community Briefing and Call to Action of more than 1,000 people.Co-sponsored by KRCC, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and others, the participants heard from elected officials such as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) who congratulated community leaders, including KRCC executive director Becky Belcore, for the work they have done to organize immigrant communities.

May 1, 2006
International Workers Day on May 1 marked another momentous mobilization of immigrant communities across the US.

To gear up for the upcoming march, KRCC held a forum on April 26 to educate community members on the anti-immigrant provisions in the pending legislations. The attendees also discussed the impact on the community and future joint actions. On May 1, KRCC mobilized over 180 community members to participate in the downtown Chicago march.The Korean American contingent marched for 6 hours alongside Filipinos and Cambodians to Grant Park in the heart of downtown. KRCC’s drumming troupe Il Kwa Nori performed on and off-stage twice for the crowd of 400,000.KRCC executive director Becky Belcore was a featured speaker, addressing the need for a stronger Korean American voice to be included in the immigration debates.

In Los Angeles, KRC in conjunction with other Korean American groups organized a rally in the center of Koreatown. After exciting community members with drumming and chants in English, Korean, and Spanish, the contingent joined the larger march of a million people on 4-mile stretch along Wilshire Boulevard, a main traffic artery of Los Angeles. Joon Hyun Kim, a longtime KRC supporter, spoke to the energized crowd on his experiences as a worker and an immigrant.

In New York, immigrant communities formed human chains in bustling neighborhoods in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Concurrently, YKASEC continued its educational outreach efforts to inform community members on the current immigrant rights debate and urged them to act by sending letters to their Senators. YKASEC, other Korean American community, business, and faith-based organizations, as well as Councilmember John Liu held a press conference on the steps of Flushing Library on Main Street proclaiming “I Love Immigrant New York” to kick start the day.