Friday, April 28, 2006

Tennessee participation in May 1 event estimated to number 4,500

The Tennessean reports in this article that local organizers estimate 4,500 Tennesseans will support the "Day Without An Immigrant" event on May 1, and that some employers are already showing support.

"Some local businesses have decided to support their employees who wish to participate by letting them use vacation, sick or personal days."

"'We are shuffling our schedules around a bit and trying to accommodate as many people as we can,' said David Latture, general manager at the Embassy Suites Nashville South at Cool Springs. 'We are trying to be proactive, and we want to be supportive. It's a good cause.'"

"'It's no different than MLK Day. We have a lot of employees that want that day off. We work with them too. We want to be sensitive to our staff. They do a good job for us, and we want to be supportive of them.'"

Aurora Bakery and Cafe on Nolensville Road will not only be open on May 1 but will host a public dialogue on all aspects of immigrants at 11:00 a.m., on the basis that not even the Hispanic community is unanimous in its opinions but that a nonjudgmental dialogue will promote intercultural understanding in Nashville.

The Tennessean article says that the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce does not endorse the event. The Chamber's statement is as follows:

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (NAHCC), issues the following statement from its President Yuri Cunza, in response to the planned May 1st National Day of Economic Action:

“As a Hispanic business organization representing the interests of our Hispanic business community, we actively pursue opportunities for the advancement and economic growth of our members. Facing the imminent National Day of Economic Action on May 1st, the Chamber is understandably concerned about any adverse impact that it may have on a variety of Hispanic and non-Hispanic businesses that play a key role in the growth and development of our local and national economy. The NAHCC is concerned about workers and students missing work and school respectively. We believe any concerted effort by Latino activists should not jeopardize any potential worker’s job status and/or student attendance.

While we do not, therefore, officially endorse any action which would harm our members, we do understand and sympathize with some of the frustration that led to the idea of the National Day of Economic Action. Much of this is a reaction to the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of the Sensenbrenner immigration bill (H.R. 4437). This outrageous legislation, if passed into law, would criminalize (a) spouses who fall in love with and marry undocumented immigrants, (b) landlords who rent or otherwise furnish room and board to undocumented immigrants, (c) churches and other charitable organizations that provide any assistance whatever to undocumented immigrants, and (d) hospitals, doctors, and clinics that render medical assistance to undocumented workers, even if the workers pay for the medical care. This legislation reeks of racism and jingoism which will result in racial profiling and other abuse of Latinos in this country, many of whom are citizens or legal permanent residents.

We recognize and celebrate the importance and value of our Hispanic workers, entrepreneurs, and Hispanic businesses, vital to the economic growth and security of the U.S. Immigrants are powerful consumers who contribute billions to the nation’s economy. Hispanic spending power currently stands at $750 billion and will reach $1 trillion by 2010. Hispanic disposable income has risen 29 percent since 2001, a rate that is fully twice that of the U.S. population as a whole.

Our mission is to support and advance the growth of our membership, providing the leadership that will create the best possible environment in which Hispanics can operate a business while enhancing the region, to serve as a bridge for the advancement, development, and integration of our growing Hispanic businesses and community at large.

It is a difficult time in history for Latinos nationwide. The same immigration system which has been a defining feature of America’s history is now broken. Instead of channels to secure legal immigration, we live in a system that has fostered a black market of growing immigrant populations, often leading to the exploitation of undocumented workers. Passage of comprehensive immigration reform will empower many of those people that now live in the shadows to come forward and express their desire to comply with the laws and continue serving as a contributing force to America and its people.

In the proposed May 1st activities, we respect the people’s rights to express their views on the immigration issue that has led to the many nationwide demonstrations. We recognize the bigger picture that this issue represents to many people, their families and ultimately to the entire American economy. As a chamber representing the interest of Hispanic-owned businesses, we care about business success; the bottom line for a business is important, but it is no more important than the rights of those working for our bottom line.

We continue our support for an immigration reform that should be guided by the following principles:

Strengthening our borders, by adopting a nondiscriminatory and effective program based on humanitarian principles.

Protecting our economy and our nation’s small businesses by recognizing the significant contribution that immigrants make to the business community

Providing for a strong, accountable guest worker program that allows undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows and continue to contribute to the prosperity of the country and that creates an effective pathway to legal residence and citizenship for our nation’s immigrants.

Ensuring that every student is able to gain access to a quality post-secondary education

Protecting family unity as the cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy.

We strongly encourage those who plan on participating in the May 1st activities to communicate with their employers about any planned economic action. In times when Congress is considering the passage of a comprehensive immigration bill, we should all be sensitive to the impact that our actions may have on our economy and on Congress. The business community has had a significant positive effect to bring about comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, and we do not want to see the Latino community unintentionally punish our friends who are making legislative process possible. Hispanic and non-Hispanic businesses would be affected alike if a negative immigration bill is passed.

The growth of our economy is in the hands of those who work to build a better country. Let’s not forget that every one of us (except the American Indian) are descendants of immigrants.

The time has come for us to join efforts in support of comprehensive legislation that rewards work, reunites families, enforces the law, and protects national security, while respecting the rights of U.S.-born and immigrant workers.

It is in the heart of America to uphold the principles of freedom, justice and democracy for all. We too believe. SI SE PUEDE! ”

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