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Labor Day Parade Brings Festivities, Voices For Immigrants and Essential Workers

Julia Furukawa/NHPR
The Rights and Democracy float at the Milford Labor Day Parade included signs of supports for immigrant essential workers.

Floats encircled Milford High School on Monday for the town's annual Labor Day Parade. Among the platforms carrying children and signs for local businesses was one from Rights and Democracy, a New Hampshire-based social justice organization.

Their message was one of support for essential workers, particularly immigrants, who make up a significant portion of the essential workforce.

New Hampshire Movement and Politics Director for Rights and Democracy Asma Elhuni said she was there to make sure the immigrants who have kept the economy alive during the pandemic are not forgotten, and that they have access to citizenship and government assistance.

"Oftentimes, it's essential workers that are left out, in particular immigrants," Elhuni said. "So, while we're all struggling, we've offered government assistance to the majority of Americans and we've left out our immigrant workers, and essential workers are the ones who are literally carrying us through this time."

Alongside Elhuni was Oscar Villacis, an organizer with Rights and Democracy, and the host of the radio show "First Gen American."

Villacis said he was joining Elhuni in the fight for rights for immigrants and essential workers.

“I want to make sure that our representatives from the state know that the struggles are real, that they do exist, and we can’t be just tokenized for political campaigns when the stories of our essential workers and the people that don’t have a path to citizenship are dying, especially from COVID-19 in moments like this," Villacis said. "We all need recognition, we all deserve a platform, we all deserve to be heard.”

Labor Day was founded in the late 19th century in recognition of the American worker and labor unions. However, research during the pandemic found that only about 12% of essential workers are protected by union contracts.

Julia Furukawa is the host of All Things Considered at NHPR. She joined the NHPR team in 2021 as a fellow producing ATC after working as a reporter and editor for The Paris News in Texas and a freelancer for KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.

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