[URBANTH-L]NEWS: Immigration March Draws 500,000 in L.A.
acjancius at ysu.edu
Sun Mar 26 15:53:50 EST 2006
Immigration March Draws 500,000 in L.A.
By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 27 minutes ago
LOS ANGELES - Thousands of immigration advocates marched though downtown Los
Angeles in one of the largest demonstrations for any cause in recent U.S.
More than 500,000 protesters - demanding that Congress abandon attempts to
make illegal immigration a felony and to build more walls along the border -
surprised police who estimated the crowd size using aerial photographs and
other techniques, police Cmdr. Louis Gray Jr. said.
Wearing white T-shirts to symbolize peace, the demonstrators chanted
"Mexico!" "USA!" and "Si se puede," an old Mexican-American civil rights
shout that means "Yes, we can."
In Denver, more than 50,000 people protested downtown Saturday, according to
police who had expected only a few thousand. Phoenix was similarly surprised
Friday when an estimated 20,000 people gathered for one of the biggest
demonstrations in city history, and more than 10,000 marched in Milwaukee on
"We construct your schools. We cook your food," rapper Jorge Ruiz said after
performing at a Dallas rally that drew 1,500. "We are the motor of this
nation, but people don't see us. Blacks and whites, they had their
revolution. They had their Martin Luther King. Now it is time for us."
Many protesters said lawmakers were unfairly targeting immigrants who
provide a major labor pool for America's economy.
"Enough is enough of the xenophobic movement," said Norman Martinez, 63, who
immigrated from Honduras as a child and marched in Los Angeles. "They are
picking on the weakest link in society, which has built this country."
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would make it
a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who
hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of
people they help, and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican
The Senate is to begin debating the proposals on Tuesday.
President Bush on Saturday called for legislation that does not force
America to choose between being a welcoming society and a lawful one.
"America is a nation of immigrants, and we're also a nation of laws," Bush
said in his weekly radio address, discussing an issue that had driven a
wedge into his own party.
Bush sides with business leaders who want to let some of the estimated 12
million undocumented immigrants stay in the country and work for a set
period of time. Others, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, say
national security concerns should drive immigration reform.
But many protesters rejected claims the national security claim, noting that
the legislation would hurt Hispanics the most.
"When did you ever see a Mexican blow up the World Trade Center? Who do you
think built the World Trade Center?" said David Gonzalez, 22, who marched in
Los Angeles with a sign that read, "I'm in my homeland.'"
Between 5,000 and 7,000 people gathered Saturday in Charlotte, carrying
signs with slogans such as "Am I Not a Human Being?" In Sacramento, more
than 4,000 people protested immigration legislation at an annual march
honoring the late farm labor leader Cesar Chavez.
The demonstrations are expected to culminate April 10 in a "National Day of
Action" organized by labor, immigration, civil rights and religious groups.
Associated Press writers Bob Jablon and Kim Nguyen contributed to this
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