Saturday, March 25, 2006

More Than 500,000 Rally in L.A. for Immigrants' Rights

My brother called from the march in LA and said it was amazing, that it was LA like he'd never seen it before. That he stood in place for almost 2 1/2 hours there were so many people marching.

The LA Times is estimating 500,00- which means there are probably many, many more than that.

Joining what some are calling the nation's largest mobilization of immigrants ever, hundreds of thousands of people boisterously marched in downtown Los Angeles Saturday to protest federal legislation that would crack down on undocumented immigrants, penalize those who help them and build a security wall on the U.S. southern border. Spirited crowds representing labor, religious groups, civil-rights advocates and ordinary immigrants stretched over 26 blocks of downtown Los Angeles from Adams Blvd. along Spring Street and Broadway to City Hall, tooting kazoos, waving American flags and chanting "Si se puede!" (Yes we can!). The crowd, estimated by police at more than 500.000, represented one of the largest protest marches in Los Angeles history, surpassing Vietnam War demonstrations and the 70,000 who rallied downtown against Proposition 187, a 1994 state initiative that denied public benefits to undocumented migrants.

The marchers included both longtime residents and the newly arrived, bound by a desire for a better life and a love for this county. [...]

Saturday's rally, spurred by anger over legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last December, was part of what many say is an unprecedented effort to organize immigrants and their supporters across the nation. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is to take up efforts Monday to complete work on a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. Unlike the House bill, which beefed up border security and toughened immigration laws, the Senate committee's version is expected to include a guest worker program and a path to legalization for the nation's 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants.

In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have staged demonstrations in more than a dozen cities. The Roman Catholic Church and other religious communities have launched immigrant rights campaigns, with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony taking a leading role in speaking out against the House bill and calling on his priests to defy its provisions that would make felons of anyone who aided undocumented immigrants. In addition, several cities, including Los Angeles, have passed resolutions against the House legislation and some, such as Maywood, have declared itself a "sanctuary" for undocumented immigrants.

"There has never been this kind of mobilization in the immigrant community ever," said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. "They have kicked the sleeping giant. It's the beginning of a massive immigrant civil rights struggle." read more


At 7:35 PM, Blogger polizeros said...

I was there. It was the biggest ever march in California history. My blog,, has lots of photos.

At 2:39 AM, Blogger belledame222 said...

Wow, damn! That photo!

You know, I've been deliberately avoiding the news for the most part for a while; it just seemed like a relentless barrage of bad news, especially since the last round of major elections. Hell, seems, I'm sure it's not changed. And yet with stories like that I remember that sometimes there are hopeful signs, too. Thanks for the reminder.

At 3:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All political grandstanding aside, however, an article in the February 20 Los Angeles Times addressed another side of the guest worker coin — a side that sheds light on a very illiberal aspect of it. The article, by Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe, publicized the plight of black workers in the L.A. area, where the unemployment rate for blacks is now 14 percent. A key figure in the story was a man named Drexell Johnson, who leads an organization called Young Black Contractors of South Central Inc. As Watanabe notes:

The news that President Bush and some members of Congress are pushing to bring more blue-collar guest workers into the country — perhaps 400,000 annually — leaves the contractors indignant.
“Hell, no, don’t bring no one in from nowhere,” said Johnson, a 47-year-old Mississippi native who founded his consortium of 35 minority contractors a decade ago. “Train the people here. Give the people here the same opportunity you’re willing to give someone out of this country.”
And it is not just black workers who are concerned about the flood of cheap labor that guest worker proposals would bring. The article cited a Pew Hispanic Center poll last August that reported that 34 percent of American-born Hispanics surveyed believed that illegal immigrants hurt the economy by driving down wages and 32 percent opposed a temporary-worker program. Though those percentages represented a minority of Hispanics, they were significant enough to indicate that there is no unified “Latino” position on the matter.

Two unemployed black men quoted by the Times were Damon Metters, who is living with his father until he finds work, and Anthony Brooks, who is living in a homeless shelter. Watanabe observes: “News of the guest-worker plan brings strong reactions from both men.

“‘No!’ Brooks said. ‘Why don’t they let us have the jobs?’”

Why, indeed?

At 11:04 AM, Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

as a native Angeleno, i was amazed at the amount of people they conjured up for this march. usually we're pretty nonchalant about such things (which isn't good). as a black women, who's beloved is an immigrant (from jamaica), i can get down with this to a degree. i don't believe illegal immigration should be made into a felony. that's just crazy.

and about the job situation. i'm torn. a lot of these immigrants are very hard workers. they bust their ass & do jobs that no one else wants. growing up in South-Central, nearly half of my neighborhood was hispanic (and back then we all got along). they were/are extremely hard working people, just trying to make their way like the rest of us. i do agree w/ training the people here for jobs, but what if they don't want *those* jobs. then what?

At 11:33 AM, Blogger brownfemipower said...

but why is it *ok* for anybody to be stuck doing *those* jobs? just because we are willing to do them (i'm chicana) doesn't mean that we *want* them...just because we are willing to work 80 hours a week doesn't mean we *want* to work 80 hours a week--it means that we are in a desperate situation and the one way that we see out of it is to do what we have been taught to do for the last 5 centuries--work our asses off. literally.

this immigration issue is in danger of being conflated into a competition over jobs issue--which turn becomes a fight over who is more willing to be treated like dogs. i'm not willing that black folks or latinos/as should be treated like dogs--as such i think that immigration movement *must* incorporate a marxist analysis into its agenda--that no matter where immigrants/citizens go to or move, they will be paid the same amount and entitled to the same protections/rights/benefits at each position.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger the prisoner's wife said...

i agree.

i wasn't saying that anyone *wants* those jobs, but the reality is the work must be done. should wages be raised? sure. should people be treated with dignity & respect? of course. but still...there is a need.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Keguro said...

Commenting *very* late on this. I'm not sure we need a Marxist analysis. Or, in addition to a Marxist analysis, we need to understand the demise, destruction, and increasing "war" against labor-based movements.

I'm distressed by the claim "immigrants are taking away jobs." It distracts us from issues of union busting and repressive labor policies, which have been at the core of big business and American labor policies for a long time. Perhaps almost as soon as American started seeing and shouting "red," labor movements were in trouble.


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