May Day, the traditional worker’s holiday, is particularly special this year for one group in America. Its immigrants. They are downing tools and marching to protest at a proposed crackdown on illegal immigration under the banner “A day without immigrants”, predicting huge swathes of the economy will grind to a halt.
Like in Greely, Colorado, where 80 percent of the population is hispanic. Sylvia Martinez works for the “Latinos Unidos” organisation. She says the scale of the protests is unprecedented, and that it is high time politics reflected their numerical presence. A new recording of the US national anthem, in Spanish, has also stirred the controversy pot. Some say it allows non-English speakers to express their patriotism. Others say it is a desecration of a national symbol, with one arch-conservative commentator calling “Nuestro Himno” the “Illegal Alien anthem”. President Bush himself, proud of his fluency in Spanish, has felt obliged to make his position clear; he wants the Star Spangled Banner to be sung in English, by everyone. Some in the immigrant community seem to agree, saying assimilation, not aggravation, should be the objective. There may be 11 million illegals in America, and it seems their silence is coming to an end.