Monday, May 01, 2006

Un día sin inmigrantes - A Day Without Immigrants

Un día sin inmigrantes - A Day Without Immigrants
Greenhouse School to Join National Day of action

The Greenhouse School, an alternative elementary school in Salem, MA serving mostly low- and moderate income families, has decided to participate in the "Day Without Immigrants/Un día sin inmigrantes" nationwide movement. The day of action, organized to coincide with International Worker's Day May 1, comes in reponse to proposed draconian anti-immigrant legislation being considered by Congress. It also aims to educate people and counter the subtle and overt racism that has pervaded the immigration discussion to date. Started in Los Angeles, Un día sin inmigrantes envisions various levels of action and participation. Many thousands, perhaps millions of immigrants, will participate on the maximum level suggested by the organizers: a one-day general strike, with no work, no school, no transportation or buying gasoline--in fact, no participation in the general economy whatsoever. The goal is to help people visualize and feel what economy and society would be like if immigrants--much vilified in current discussion--were not in the picture.

At The Greenhouse School, a lively faculty discussion prompted a decision that the school should participate in the action as much as possible. While the school remain open, Welch says they will do other things to call attention to the Día sin inmigrantes: "If it weren't for the immigrants on my staff, I'd have one teacher to help me run the whole school. I'd like people to imagine what that would be like."

The school will be decorated with temporary signs declaring "We Are All Immigrants" and "Somos todos inmigrantes" in English and Spanish, as well as "Human Beings Aren't Illegal," a poignant statement which graced a sign at a recent immigrants' rights rally. In addition, the school's international flag display, which was vandalized last month, will taken down for a day. The display pays homage to the heritage of all the countries from which staff, students and parents have hailed over the years; its temporary removal will symbolize the loss of this heritage in solidarity with the theme of Un día sin inmigrantes.

"It's time for people to stop being silent about the disturbing things that are happening in our country," Welch says. "We have a good location with a sizeable traffic flow, so it's a great opportunity to make a strong statement. In fact, I feel like it's our duty to do so."

Welch's wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde, who helps run the school, will spend part of the day teaching the children about the history and plight of immigrants to the US. "It's not a huge stretch," says Nambalirwa-Lugudde, who herself emigrated from Uganda at the age of 9. "Most of my kids are very aware of their parents' struggles and the issues their families still face." School officials have not decided whether to participate in future strikes by closing for the day, but have not ruled out the possibility. "Things are getting to a very serious point in this country," says Welch, "and it is up to the people to provide leadership when the leaders won't." Organizers of Un día sin inmigrantes have also asked that supporters of the effort wear white shirts or an armband, put up signs in workplaces or homes, and join in local events organized around the issue.

The Greenhouse School
145 loring avenue salem, massachusetts 01970
tel. 978-745-4549


CONTACT: Dan Welch EMAIL: wpdanny(at)
PHONE: (978) 745-4549 WEBSITE:
PHOTOS available to accompany this release


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