All Over the United States Millions Rally for Immigrant Rights

LOS ANGELES - Florentino Cruz, an illegal worker from Mexico, joined hundreds of thousands of immigrant rights supporters in rallies across the nation, holding a sign with a simple message: "The USA is made of immigrants like me." The protests Monday were the culmination of more than two weeks of mounting pressure for federal lawmakers to overhaul America's immigration policies.

Weekend Protests

Boise: 5,000
Dallas: 500,000
Minneapolis: Thousands
Salt Lake City: 20,000
San Diego: 50,000
St. Paul: 40,000

Monday Protests

Albertville, Alabama: 5,000
Albuquerque: 2,000
Atlanta: 50,000
Austin: Thousands
Bakersfield: 7-10,000
Birmingham: 3,000
Bloomington, Il.: Hundreds
Boston: 10,000
Boulder: ??
Brownsville, Tx.: 350
Burlington: 100
Cameron County, Tx.: 500
Carbondale, Il.: 100
Champaign, Il.: Hundreds
Charleston, South Carolina: 400
Colorado Springs: 1,000
Columbia, South Carolina: 3,000
Corpus Christi: Hundreds
Denver: 100s
Dodge City, KS: ??
Emporia, KS: ??
Fort Lauderdale, Fl.: 150
Fort Meyers: 75,000
Fort Pierce, Florida: 2,500
Garden City, Kan.: 3000
Grand Junction, Co.: 3,500
Greenville, South Carolina: 2,500
Homestead, Fl.: 2500
Indianapolis: 20,000
Jersey City: 3,000
Jonesborough, Tennessee: Dozens
Kansas City: 1000s
Knoxville: Hundreds
Lake Worth: 5,000
Las Cruces: 300
Las Vegas: 3,500
Lexington, KY: 3,000
Los Angeles: 5,000
Madison: 10,000+
Memphis: Hundreds
Miami: Thousands
New York City: 100,000?
Oakland: 2,000
Pensacola: Hundreds
Philadelphia: 1000s
Phoenix: 100,000-200,000
Pittsburgh, Pa.: 100s
Port Arthur, Tx.: 200
Providence: 5,000
Reno: 5,000
Salinas: Dozens
San Francisco: 5,000
San Jose: 10,000
Santa Ana, California: 100s
Schaumburg, Il.: Dozens
Sioux City: 3,000
Smithfield, North Carolina: 200
South Bend, Ind.: Hundreds
Springdale, Arkansas: 1000s
Topeka: ??
Washington, DC: 120,000
Wichita: 4,000

Numbers compiled from wire reports and Indymedia.

Immigration Rights Rallies Draw Thousands

By PETER PRENGAMAN, Associated Press Writer
April 11, 2006

LOS ANGELES - Florentino Cruz, an illegal worker from Mexico, joined hundreds of thousands of immigrant rights supporters in rallies across the nation, holding a sign with a simple message: "The USA is made of immigrants like me."

The protests Monday were the culmination of more than two weeks of mounting pressure for federal lawmakers to overhaul America's immigration policies.

"Before the marches, they only saw us as criminals. Now they are changing, but still not enough," said Renato Cuchillo, 50, an undocumented Mexican factory worker in Los Angeles.

Rallies were held from New York and Boston to Houston and Phoenix, to Seattle and San Francisco, and dozens of other communities. There was even a small but active group in Alaska.

"This is bigger than the civil rights movement in the sixties. This is huge," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday on CBS' "The Early Show."

"What this is building is enormous pressure on the Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration bill — tighten border security, more border patrol agents, secure the border from drugs and illegal traffic, but also a sensible legalization plan that brings the 11 million undocumented workers out of the shadows," he said.

Richardson, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, said it was critical that Congress deal with the issue, noting the nation has huge numbers of Hispanic voters. "Otherwise, there's going to be deep repercussions in the polls, and right now Republicans stand to lose the most," he said.

A bill passed by the House would crack down on illegal immigrants and strengthen the U.S. border with Mexico. A broader overhaul of immigration law stalled in the Senate last week and lawmakers went on a two-week break. Demonstrators in Washington marched past the White House, angry that the House bill would make illegal immigrants felons.

More than 80,000 took to the streets in Florida, with an estimated 75,000 people marching in Fort Myers. Many held signs with messages such as: "It is not about politics. It is about human beings. Stop being selfish."

"It gives you motivation to keep fighting," said Veronica Ramirez, 19, a native of Mexico City, who has worked in tomato fields since she came to the United States two years ago.

A rally in Tucson, Ariz., was marred when counter-demonstrators burned two Mexican flags and police took six people into custody. Some pro-immigrant groups had urged supporters to roll up flags from any country other than the U.S.

At a rally in Seattle, citizens of all colors, ages and backgrounds marched. Signs ranged from the earnest, "We love America and we work very hard" to the teasing, "Who's going to mow your lawn, John?" Mayor Greg Nickels estimated the crowd at 25,000.

There were teenagers with dogs, moms with strollers, classmates marching arm in arm, white-haired retirees in wire-framed spectacles. A sign in Arabic urged "Mobilization for Immigration Justice."

"It's the most beautiful day I have ever seen in the United States," said Gerardo Martinez, a construction worker who came from Mexico to Everett, Wash., five years ago.

"To work is not to break the law," said Javier Cisneros of Seattle, who came from Mexico eight years ago. He and his wife and daughter were among the onlookers lining the sidewalks, many with cell-phone cameras.

In North Carolina and Dallas, immigrant groups called for an economic boycott to show their financial impact. In Pittsburgh and other cities, protesters gathered outside lawmakers' offices.

At the Mississippi Capitol, they sang "We Shall Overcome" in Spanish. In Albertville, Ala., they carried American flags and signs including "Sweet Home Alabama."

In Houston, a crowd of 50,000 people marched, rallied and waved mainly U.S. flags. Nine-year-old Murphy Alvarez used a bullhorn to help lead the crowd as it chanted "Si se puede" or "Yes we can."

"I came here to be part of history and support the immigrants," said the fourth-grader, who was born in the U.S. but whose parents are from Guatemala. "America was founded by immigrants and really the Americans are immigrants."

Pedro Cruz brought his 5-year-old daughter to Monday's protest in New York City because he said it was more important than his job at a fish market.

"I wanted to show the Congress I'm not a criminal," said Cruz, a native of Mexico who has lived in the U.S. for 17 years. "I'm just trying to work here, trying to survive."

During the march in Manhattan, Korean-Americans kept the marchers company by beating drums. One of the drummers, Grace Nam, 35, who is an American citizen, said she came to lend her support.

"We just need to make our voices heard," Nam said.

Damien Halpern, 45, an Irish carpenter who has been in the U.S. illegally for 13 years, said the protesting "is going to change the country."

"Things have to change," Halpern said in New York.

The protests were even heard in Anchorage, Alaska, where a tiny contingent of protesters waved American flags at passing motorists outside the federal building. Ludi Zamudio, who works at the Alaska Immigration Justice Project, said it was important to show solidarity.

"Even though we're far away, we can still support them."


All Over the U.S.A. Millions Rally for Immigrant Rights

by Mike Hargis, Chicago IWW - Industrial Worker

It was so incredible: I never saw the beginning of the march, nor the end. I didn’t hear one speech and never even made it to the Loop where the march was supposed to end. There was just this sea of humanity gathered in the streets, flowing in the same direction with the same object in mind: defeat the new, draconian immigration bill known as “The Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005” (HR4437).

On March 10 at least 300,000 people took the day off work or school and converged in Chicago’s Loop to protest this bill, which would turn undocumented workers into “aggravated criminal felons” and those who assist them, such as priests and nurses (and unionists) into criminals as well for “aiding and abetting” them. The bill passed the House of Representatives just before Christmas, it is currently being debated in the Senate.

While the crowd was predominantly Latino there were also substantial contingents of Polish, Irish, Korean, Arab and other immigrant communities.

Chanting “¡Si, se puede!” (Yes, it can be done) and “¡El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido!” (The People United Will Never be Defeated), factory workers, dishwashers, carpenters, high school students and even small shop-keepers marched from Union Park two miles into the Loop. They carried hand-lettered signs saying: “We are America,” “My Mexican immigrant son died in Iraq,” “I’m a dishwasher – not a criminal” and “Don’t deport my parents.”

More than 100 factories in the Chicago area shut down for the day because so many workers had told their bosses that they were planning on taking the day of for “the general strike,” according to Jose Artemio Arreola of the Coalition Against HR4437.

The predominant colors of the day, however, were red, white and blue as U.S. flags were evident everywhere. There was even one small group who insisted on chanting “USA, USA.” (Were they being ironic, I wonder?) Undoubtedly many were eager to show their fellow Americans that they were just as patriotic as them – that all they wanted was to work, pay their taxes, raise their families and partake of the American Dream. “We are all America” and “We Pay Taxes” were other signs in evidence.

At the rally at the Federal Building local Democratic Party bigwigs spoke to those who were actually able make it there. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Mayor “Little Dick” Daley, Senator Dick Durbin and Congressmen Bobbie Rush and Luis Gutierrez all denounced the pending legislation noting that the city of Chicago was build by immigrant labor. Employers are undoubtedly concerned that this legislation will cut into their profit margins by depriving them of low-wage labor and the politicians want those Latino votes.

A small group of the anti-immigrant Illinois Minuteman Project held a press conference in Grant Park at 10:00 a.m. Their Latina-token front, Rosanna Pulido, declared, “I don’t care if there’s three million people out there, if they are illegal they do not have a voice in America.” What a putz!

The Chicago GMB voted at our March 3 meeting to endorse the protest, at the request of Union Latina. Unfortunately, we were not able to mobilize a visible contingent in so short a time. A call was sent to our e-list to meet up at the edge of Union Park but when I got there with my IWW flag there were already so many people it was impossible to find any other Wobs. Several people, however, did ask me what IWW meant. When I informed them that it was “Trabajadores Industriales del Mundo, mi sindicato” they nodded in appreciation.

March 10 was the largest workers’ demonstration in Chicago history. Not since 80,000 workers marched down Michigan Avenue in 1886 to demand an 8-hour workday has there been such a demonstration of solidarity in the streets of the Windy City. Still, in many ways, it was a conservative movement, aimed at preserving the chance at the American Dream for this new wave of immigrants that was enjoyed by those of past generations. On the other, hand it graphically showed the potential power of immigrant labor when united in a common cause.

Hopefully efforts to organize immigrant labor in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs will be given a boost by this show of solidarity. It should certainly awaken local Wobs up to the need to strengthen our connections to immigrant workers.

Similar actions have been held across the country, including a March 7 rally in Washington, D.C. that drew some 20,000 workers. Philadelphia Wobblies will be joining the city’s second “paro” (work stoppage) March 27, as organizers deliberately schedule demonstrations on work days in order to force employers to recognize their reliance upon immigrant workers.


At least 14,000 LA students walk out in immigration law protest

March 27: At least 14,000 mostly Hispanic students stormed out of school classes across Los Angeles in a snowballing protest against Washington's plans for a draconian crackdown on illegal immigration.

Local news reports said that "tens of thousands of students" were taking part in the protest that was spreading through schools across the country's second largest city ahead of a US Senate debate on a divisive immigration reform bill.

"At least 14,000 students are protesting in the streets in Los Angeles city alone," Monica Carazo, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District told AFP.

The latest protest came after one of the biggest protests in recent US history Saturday when more than 500,000 people marched in Los Angeles against the immigration reform bill that would make it a felony criminal offence to be in the United States illegally.

Smaller protests took place in a number of cities around the country as well over the weekend and on Monday against the draft laws.

Los Angeles pupils pursued the protest Monday by walking out of class in at least 21 schools across the city and its surrounding areas, prompting education officials to lock down some campuses to keep the angry students inside.

But they leaped fences and marched through streets brandishing US and Mexican flags and chanting slogans against the immigration bill.

"If we don't leave school today, half of the school who don't have papers will have to leave soon if this law passes, and they won't come back, ever," shouted Huntington Park High School student Anita Benitez.

The Los Angeles Police Department put officers on a "city-wide tactical alert" as a precaution because of the wave of protests that included a crowd of at least 1,500 students who were demonstrating outside city hall.

The protests target a bill, already passed by the US House of Representatives, that would crack down on employers hiring illegal workers and people smuggling illegal immigrants into the country.

The bill would also require employers to verify social security numbers with the Department of Homeland Security, beef up penalties for immigrant smuggling and stiffen penalties for undocumented immigrants who reenter the United States after having been removed.

At least 11 million illegal immigrants, most of them from neighbouring Mexico, live in the United States and are responsible for keeping the human machinery of US cities humming.


Thousands March in Boston for Immigrant Rights

Boston, MA--Although march organizers expected numbers only in the hundreds, an estimated four to six thousand people came to the Boston Commons to rally in favor of immigrant rights. Inspired by huge crowds of people that rallied this past weekend in Los Angeles (estimated at 500 thousand to 1 million people) Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, and other cities across the United States, Bostonian immigrants came out in mass to make a stand against legislation like Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s (R-WI) bill HR 4437.

“Our ‘pueblo’, our ‘raza’, our people has finally said enough! We will not be afraid anymore; we will rally against anti-immigrant, harmful legislation in Congress,” said Maria Elena, executive director of Centro Presente, an immigrant rights organization in Cambridge. “All we want is to be able to build and work for a better future. We are good people and will demand what we deserve.”

Sensenbrenner’s bill would have made would have made undocumented immigrants “aggravated criminal felons” and anyone who aids them (including churches and social workers) into criminals for “aiding and abetting” the undocumented. Additionally, it recommended erecting a 698-mile across the U.S.-Mexico border at a cost of $1 million per mile.

Jose Mendoza from El Salvador couldn’t contain his emotion as he shouted, “¡Si se puede!” and “We are not criminals!” He explained that as the oldest son of four children, he came to the United States when he was 17 years old to find some means of support for his family. That was eleven years ago, and since then he hasn’t seen them again. “The hardest thing is not been able to visit my family,” he said. “Most of us do the hard work that Americans don’t want to do and instead are being treated like terrorists.”

“We cannot create legislature based on hate instead of facilitating a process towards citizenship,” said City Councilor Felix Arroyo, “I’m more interested in McCain/Kennedy’s bill which will integrate family members in that process.”

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee implemented most of McCain and Kennedy’s proposals by making it possible for undocumented immigrants who have lived in the US for more than six years, to apply for citizenship. Senators agreed that the massive rallies this past weekend influenced their decision.

The Boston crowd was riddled with flags representing multiple countries from the American continent, including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, and the United States. People from all ages, many with kids and infants, were there to demand their rights.

Plans for the rally included a quick march from the Commons to Tremont Temple, where mass was to be held for all participants, but soon the march organizers were overwhelmed by the large crowd. “We want people to see our numbers and strength. We can’t stay inside,” said one of the demonstrators. Impromptu plans were soon made to continue the march, and a police escort was arranged all the way to Government Center where the department of Citizenship and Immigration Services resides.

“It’s not fair that in a nation that considers itself to be the most democratic, developed in the world, laws are being considered to repress a community that has contributed so much to this economy,” said Carlos Chacon, one of the rally organizers.

According to the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC), as of 2004, one in seven Mass. Residents was born in another country. The impact of immigrants on the economy is significant. Over the last 25 years, the share of immigrants in the Massachusetts workforce has nearly doubled. Today, 17 percent of our workforce are immigrants.

Rally demonstrators came from many different social and economic backgrounds. Carmelle Bonhomecer, a citizen from Haiti, received her college degree in Canada in business administration and then moved to Boston with her husband. She compared Bush’s workers permit program to “modern-day slavery.” The temporary worker program would allow immigrants to work in the US with no work benefits nor a chance to move towards citizenship.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), agrees. “I think President’s Bush proposal is indenture servitude. It creates a permanent second class and does nothing to create a solution for immigrants in the country.”

The bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee includes plans to toughen border patrol presence and create a guest-worker program similar to Bush's proposal, for low-wage jobs in agriculture, construction, and meat packing. The bill is scheduled for debate in the Senate’s floor today.


Over 500,000 Protest Anti-Immigrant Law in Downtown Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, March 26, 2006-- What happened yesterday? The Los Angeles Times estimates 500,000 people turned out; Univision estimates 2,000,000. You can read about it anywhere--a Gran Marcha against the Sensenbrenner immigration reform bill. The pictures are spectacular. Doves were released, a horn blared, a marching band played.

Those of us who couldn't get close to the speakers' platform joined semi-organized mini-marches of several thousand people, led by the SEIU, LA-ANSWER, and UNO. Waves of people standing in the streets broke into spontaneous chants of "¡Aqui estamos y no nos vamos!" And always there was, "¡Sí, Se Puede!" Outpacing the masses or going the other direction, against the tide, meant squeezing along building walls and non-stop "con permiso."

After the March, thousands of people stood in line after line along the overpasses along the 101, waving flags and celebrating. The resounding honks of car horns rising up from below us was near-deafening.

Except for a fracas between police and a few marchers at the end of the event, which resulted in no arrests, the police were nearly invisible and the protestors were resolute and calm. Firefighters were cheered wherever they appeared, and I've never seen so many U.S. flags at a protest, raised side-by-side with Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran flags, or small U.S. flags topping the flagpoles of foreign flags. Occasionally, a U.S. flag was held upside-down, the international signal for a ship in distress.

Two other protest anomalies were apparent: the sea of white shirts signaling "peace," and the families - grandparents, youth, toddlers, and the ubiquitous strollers.

I asked what the the shirts, the flags, and the families meant. Let me try to explain what I learned.

Reframing the National Debate

A March that was billed as "anti-Sensenbrenner" became, in the hands of the people, a march for legalization. In one sense, the underlying theme is not dissimilar to the argument for legalizing pot: acknowledge in the light of day what is tacitly condoned.

For ten thousand years and more, the people who live in what is now Mexico passed freely into what is now called the United States. Then the Europeans arrived, and the massacres began.

Sixteen decades ago, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo declared that ranchers and ranch hands, any Mexican or Native American in the new U.S. territory who wanted to keep their land and livelihood, were citizens of the United States (and would be grouped racially with European immigrants). To avoid land confiscation and with the gold rush of 1849, as many as 100,000 Mexicans opted for citizenship. Since then, the U.S. has manipulated the natural movement of peoples for its economic gain. In the 1920s, farm workers were brought in from Mexico, only to be deported in the 1930s. With 1942 Bracero program, the U.S. government and U.S. business actively encouraged the immigration of cheap labor from Mexico, welcoming workers even as they deported them during the late 1950s "Operation Wetback." The Bracero program ended in 1964. In 1984, undocumented people were offered amnesty and citizenship.

Twenty years later, NAFTA and CAFTA have propelled people off now unprofitable farms and into U.S.-owned foreign sweatshops at $5.50 per day. The only alternative is making the trip to the north and working for $50 per day. Sensenbrenner (HR 4437) and its companion bills under discussion in the Senate would end that option in a few weeks, with a vote and a penstroke.

Worse, under Sensenbrenner, border crossers would be deemed felons. Putting aside law enforcement for the moment, the vigilante minutemen are anticipating a field day, when they can initiate a citizen's arrest against anyone they "know" to be here in violation of felony laws. Undoubtedly, the minutemen watched the Gran Marcha on their TVs while they cleaned their guns and counted their ammunition.

The marchers wore white shirts to shout "no free-for-alls against immigrants," no white-instigated race war. In a word, the shirts were a call for peace, for a stable, legal working relationship with the United States. "No guerra, no racismo, no deportación," the marchers chanted.

The white T-shirts, crew shirts, blouses, and dress shirts with embroidered cuffs called for a truce based on legalization for people here and for a guest worker program; for legal recognition of what is and has been, in opposition to Sensenbrenner's and the minutemen's paramilitary effort to reshape history. Today, Mexicans, Central Americans, South Americans, other immigrant communities, and their children turned the debate into a question of how best to incorporate undocumented but often welcomed immigrants into U.S. society. It's a question that has waited decades for an answer.

Single Citizenship, Dual Flags

Especially in southern Mexico and Central America, emigrants may be leaving homes without electricity or indoor plumbing, or with dirt floors, for the relative luxury of life as a janitor, plumber's helper, or farmworker. Whole families save to send their most likely breadwinner away to the United States. Dropped off on the other side of the border, the new arrival hooks up with a friend or relative and enters the largely underground economy. If the expense of living here doesn't overwhelm him, he sends a few dollars home to help their wife and children, or maybe a younger brother, sister, or cousin, to cross.

The international myth of the American dream, for most undocumented foreign nationals who come here, means economic survival and cultural integrity, and little more. "Trabajar por un sueno no es crimen," read one sign.

In communities of undocumented people there is hope in the microeconomic opportunities here, even though, in the macroeconomic picture, the U.S. sucks their native countries dry and does the same to the migrants themselves once they cross to "El Otro Lado." Another protestor held up a sign, "If trying to survive is a crime, we're all criminals."

On the steps of city hall, the destination of the marchers, a banner fluttered: "Please Include Us in Your Dreams," it read.

Politically correct or not, this intimate plea is what it meant that the migrants carried so many US flags. It was a plea for inclusion and legalization, and against scapegoating, round ups, mass detention and mass deportation.

"Families United Should Never Be Divided"

Immigrants have spent their family's "fortune" on the hope of a better life for their children, and for the chance to improve their family's' lives back home. Obligations to aging parents and young offspring require that sons, daughters, and young parents cross the border, even if it might mean death. It is many young people's dream to come to the U.S., but the dream of Mesoamerican youth is unlike the dreams of U.S. youth to go off to college or adventure in the city. If a Guatemalan or Salvadoran or Honduran young person succeeds in the U.S., they are family heroes. The same spirit of family obligation is what propelled young Chicanos to abandon school on Friday in defense of their parents and grandparents.

The Gran Marcha was billed as a "family event." Strollers were everywhere. Three generations gripped each others' hands as they wended their way through the crowds. The shout that a child was lost brought the immense human wave to a halt and cheers when the child was found. A path opened up from mother to child. In Mexico, Central American, and South American communities, a family event means more than "quality time" with the kids or an "educational" outing.

Perhaps the most devastating impact of Sensenbrenner for its victims would be families ripped apart.

In cultures that survive because of family love, support, and obligations, Sensenbrenner and all the proposals before the Senate threatens not only immigrants' livelihood, but their safety net and the cultural hub of their lives. Under "immigration reform," families would be destroyed. Breadwinners, mothers and fathers, would spend months in prison before deportation.

Remaining family members would be abandoned in the U.S., struggling on one minimum-wage income or less. Children would be left without parents, turned over to the notorious Department of Human Services to find more distant family members or foster parents while their natural parents served out jail sentences and then tried to reunite with their children from across the border. Or, as happened in previous mass deportations, the children--mostly U.S. citizens--would be deported with their families.

The peace the migrants called for is the peace of families intact, with love and with squabbles, in a country that tacitly invited them, and peace with legal standing. It is the small peace of going to school, of work and taxes, of family meals with grandparents, children, and grandchildren uninterrupted by police banging at the door.

The Sleeping Giant

A year's work for hundreds of Los Angeles activists against the minutemen paid off yesterday. They held the door open from Baldwin Park and Garden Grove to Laguna Beach, Lake Forest, and Glendale, and the community had time to recognize the threat and to organize. Amidst the flags and the strollers were signs that read, "The 50 States Need 'Slaves' To Work" and signs that compared Sensenbrenner to Hitler, familiar themes to pro-migrant activists. And at the end of it all, the danzantes danced.

As one sign told Sensenbrenner, the Congress, and the minutemen, "You bug so much you woke up the Sleeping Giant."

On the Streets

Today, I overheard the manager of my local Sav-On talking with a stock clerk. The white guy in the dress shirt said, "Did you see the March yesterday? The news said 500,000 people were out." The African-American woman he spoke to said, "Yeah, it was something, wasn't it?" The manager added, "I didn't know there were so many of them. What do those people expect?" and continued, "I mean, I know they deserve better and all, but what happens if they pass that law? Is there going to be a riot?" His trepidation was unmistakable before he drifted away.

After a moment, I turned to her as she restocked items on the shelf and mentioned that I was at the March, and that the Spanish media reported one and a half to two million participants. She said, "I'm not surprised. The way those people have been brought in here, and now they get treated like this. And they really are doing the jobs nobody wants." She continued straightening items on the shelf as she went on, "My daughter, she's a manager. That's what we want for our children. We don't want those kind of jobs." I suggested that the Jewish persecution began much like this, and she agreed: "Yeah, that's right. I don't blame them for standing up. I wouldn't blame them if they took the streets. We did."


Students again walk out, rally

On Monday, some 400 students walked out of their high schools and marched to the Capitol to voice support for government policies that would welcome illegal immigrants and their families.

In Los Angeles, thousands of students ditched classes for the second day in a row, ignoring rain and campus lockdowns to protest immigration legislation.

During the morning, 5,395 students left schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, even though middle and high schools had barred youngsters from leaving campus, district spokeswoman Monica Carazo said.

About 800 students from San Diego-area schools walked out to protest.

Several hundred students, some carrying Mexican flags, marched down streets in Wilmington, a working-class area south of downtown Los Angeles, ignoring pleas a day earlier from police and the mayor to stay in school.

Authorities who had taken a watch-and-wait attitude on Monday had a harsher stance Tuesday. In the city of Carson, authorities with batons and helmets temporarily ringed dozens of youngsters in front of a high school before allowing them to march.

In the San Pedro area of Los Angeles, at least 50 students were cited for truancy and taken back to schools. A 14-year-old boy was arrested for investigation of disturbing the peace and taken to the police station before being released to his parents, Sgt. Mark Jauregui said.

Some students were halted as they walked onto a freeway, forcing police to briefly close all lanes and divert them before they reached the soaring Vincent Thomas Bridge over Los Angeles harbor, the sergeant said.

Most of the 500 students in San Pedro appeared to have come straight to the march rather than leaving the closed campuses, Jauregui said. Students also reportedly walked off in suburban Bellflower.

The 728,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District saw about 26,000 students walk out of 56 schools on Monday, at a cost of more than $500,000 in lost state attendance funds. The district receives state money for every student in class and that money is withheld when a student is absent.

Student walkouts continued in other states as well. In Texas, hundreds of students left classes. In Dallas, some gathered to shout and wave signs at City Hall. One student’s hand was severed when a sport utility vehicle she was riding in crashed on the way to a rally.

Students at several Las Vegas high schools also walked out.



People watch in horror as riot squad attacks crowd of peaceful and festive observers.


SANTA ANA, CA -- Several of Santa Ana's poorest working class Mexican neighborhoods suddenly found themselves under a state of siege last night when an estimated two hundred Santa Ana police officers, Orange County Sheriff's deputies, and California Highway patrolmen descended into the area and squelched a peaceful protest near the intersection of Bristol and McFadden Streets.

More than 700 people had assembled about a quarter mile away to express their opposition to legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December that would criminalize undocumented workers. The demonstration was peaceful and festive as people carried flags, signs, and wore clothing symbolizing their Mexican heritage. The street was flooded with cars honking their horns.

Things took a turn for the worse when Santa Ana policemen dressed in full riot gear suddenly came up from behind the crowd I was standing in and began yelling for everybody to "get the hell out of here." Without warning, cops started jumping out from their patrol cars and began shoving and pushing people; several Mexican males trying to move away from them stumbled and fell as they lost their balance.

After being herded out of the area like a bunch of cattle, this reporter retreated to the safety of his vehicle. In the dark, a black armored car carrying Santa Ana policemen slowly moved east on McFadden. Several California Highway Patrol units also whizzed by, their lights quietly flashing; they positioned themselves further up the street to prevent people from entering the neighborhood.

When things cooled down, I exited my vehicle and found myself watching about eight policemen on horseback
ride their ponies directly through one working class neighborhood in an attempt to get to Bristol street.
Moving to a nearby shopping center, I observed a formation about sixty Orange County Sheriff's deputies and California Highway patrolmen march South on Bristol street toward the intersection.

It's unclear at this time if anybody was arrested or seriously injured, but after the army of cops retreated, the only visible property damage one could see was graffiti that somebody sprayed on local businesses. On the wall next to a convenience store I bought a bag of chips and a soda from, somebody wrote the words: "Mexico, don't hate."


Police Make Arrests On 2nd Day Of Walkouts, Student Demonstrator Injured

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Students rushed Dallas City Hall Tuesday in the second day of marches for the rights of illegal immigrants, leaving at least three injured; students also gathered at Kiest Park in Oak Cliff and Fort Worth City Hall.

The students flooded the most floors of Dallas City Hall, disrupting a council meeting, before police and security guards managed to usher them back out. Councilwoman Elba Garcia left a closed-door meeting to used a police-car public address system to ask students to return to school.

Hundreds of students were gathered outside Dallas City Hall with flags and signs. Several students were seen wading in the reflecting pond in front of City Hall.

One girl was carried out of the water and attended to by paramedics. At least one other person was injured moments later.

Police lined the City Hall entrance, and elevators inside the building were shut down late Tuesday morning. There was no word on damage or arrests.

Video footage Tuesday showed gridlocked traffic two or three lanes wide in front of one Dallas high school, with many truckbeds packed with students who waved Mexican flags.

At Kiest Park, about 1,500 students from Dallas and Grand Prairie schools demonstrated. Dallas police outfitted in riot gear moved in on the crowd after some of the students started throwing rocks and bottles at a woman who staged a one-person counterprotest.

Dallas police said they were forced to separate the woman from the crowd. They also moved students to a different section of the park.

Police withdrew after a few minutes and watched from a distance as the students boarded buses, which took them back to school.

Students from at least four Irving high schools walked out of class at about 9 a.m. and took the Trinity Railway Express to Dallas City Hall.

Grand Prairie Independent School District said students walked out from Grand Prairie High, South Grand Prairie High, Arnold Middle School, Jackson Middle School, Kennedy Middle School and Lee Middle School. The students walked eastbound on Pioneer Parkway and ended up at Kiest Park in Dallas.

Fort Worth Protests

Students from at least four Fort Worth high schools caused some tense moments at Fort Worth City Hall Tuesday morning, according to an NBC 5 report. Several hundred students walked to municipal offices, some from as far away as Polytechnic High on the city's east side.

The crowd became unruly at times, according to the NBC 5 report. Police on foot, horseback and in squad cars worked to maintain order. At least three students were arrested, NBC 5 reported, although no one was reported injured.

School administrators pleaded with students to board buses and return to their campuses. Many of the students complied and the crowd temporarily dispersed.

Pockets of demonstrators remained at City Hall, according to NBC 5. The students said they wanted to make their voices heard on the proposed federal immigration laws.

"They work here. They work in construction. They build the houses. Not everybody else is in the hot (weather) working outside. They're inside in air conditioning. We came to help them out, you know, protest," Richie Meza said.

Fort Worth Independent School District administrators said that while the experience is educational, they expect students to make up for the missed class work.

Houston And The Nation

Hundreds of others walked out of schools elsewhere in the state.

In Houston, police said they took some students into custody and several others were cited for daytime curfew violations.

Tens of thousands of students around the country walked out of class Monday and Tuesday to protest legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants.

Legislation in Congress includes measures that would make it a crime to dispense aid to the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants, add penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and would build fences along part of the U.S.-Mexican border.

The full U.S. Senate is preparing to debate a measure passed by a committee Monday that would give millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship. Any bill produced by the Senate would have to be reconciled with a House bill that would make illegal immigrants felons.

Demonstrator Injured

A woman who is believed to be a Dallas Independent School District student was injured Tuesday morning while participating in the protest behind Skyline High School in East Dallas.

The incident happened when the Ford Expedition in which Yadira Ortiz, 18, was riding rolled over, DISD spokesman Donald Claxton said.

Claxton said Ortiz suffered a severed hand and was being treated at Baylor Hospital. According to Dallas police, she is in stable condition.

The SUV was traveling at a high rate of speed, Claxton said.

High School Walkouts Begin Monday

School officials estimated that on Monday, 4,000 students -- most from Skyline, North Dallas, Townview and Molina high schools -- participated in the walkouts and demonstrations.

Dallas police blocked off traffic in and around Kiest Park as students flooded the streets. Chopper 5 showed several Dallas police officers at the park.

Some students in Garland also walked out from classes at Lakeview Centennial High School Monday morning.

About 1,500 people marched in downtown Dallas on Saturday. At a dinner meeting of the Latino group LULAC, leaders announced a major rally on April 9.

"We are going to be having, hopefully it will be the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of Dallas, Texas -- 100,000-plus," said LULAC representative Domingo Garcia.

Dallas school officials said the students who participated in the rallies on Monday would receive an unexcused absence.