Immigrants' Rights: The Los Angeles Demonstration

3-30-06, 8:51 am

The over half a million immigrants rights supporters who rallied in Los Angeles March 25 sent their fellow American people, and their government a clear message: We are Americans, we are workers who build up this economy and society, we are not terrorists nor criminals, we deserve justice and equality with legalization! ****Hundreds upon hundreds of thousands in the march sent these messages on their white tee shirts, on placards, carrying banners and American flags, with chants as well as roaring cheers for the speeches of grass roots, labor, political and religious leaders.

The march and rally were timed to precede Senate debate on immigration policy starting March 27 where Republican proposals for severe repressive measures and restrictive programs are being opposed by growing numbers of labor community coalition which has been drawing in leading Democrats and some Republicans, religious, some business groups and a growing number of Democrats.

The earnestness of the message was embodied in the character of the marchers, they came hours early, and hundreds of thousands were already there at the 10am assembly time. They came as community, whole families came many with infants in strollers as well as their grandparents, and others came in groups of coworkers and neighbors. Over two thirds wore white as a symbol of peaceful advocacy for their rights as requested by organizers. The American flag predominated; some carried it along with their former homelands’ like of Mexico, El Salvador, and other many other countries. They carried themselves with the dignity they want from their government and the American people. There were no alcoholic beverages, people were so solidly pressed together that tobacco was virtually absent. No arrests were made

The march was called to oppose HR 4437 that criminalizes undocumented workers as well as the family, neighbors, employers, clergy, teachers and others who provide them with service and assistance. Also called for was pro immigrant comprehensive immigration reform and the clear demand was for permanent residency with a path to citizenship. Strong opposition was shown to temporary worker programs with unequal rights with no path to citizenship as proposed by President Bush.

“I am an American, we are American, we are here today and will not go away” said Gloria Saucedo, president of Hermandad Mexicana of the San Fernando Valley to the thundering cheers of the multitude.

California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez said, “we are a community looking for justice, we want permanent residency, this week President Bush and Congress can decide whether to open their arms...or turn their backs on our beautiful community.” Nunez referred to the scheduled Senate debate and votes on immigration the week of March 27.

Father Mike Kennedy Pastor of Dolores Mission Catholic Church in Los Angeles spoke of the Catholic Conference of Bishops support for immigrant rights. He said that the anti immigrant proposals in Congress “are sinful...we need an amnesty.”

“Bush and Congress we will not allow you to treat us as modern slaves we want a path to citizenship said Angela Sanbrano Director of the Central American Resource Center.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigoza declared to cheers “We are here as one family” seeking legalization as part of the “American Dream, we are not illegal we are workers.”

Emcee Juan Jose Gutierrez asked the crowd “those opposed to Bracero (oppressive temporary) programs raise your hands, hundreds of thousands raised their hands.

“Hoy Marchamos Manana Votamos (Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote) and Hoy Marchamos Manana Boicoteamos (Today We March Tomorrow we Boycott). “Were the slogans the whole crowd chanted to let government and business leaders know that national political and economic actions were key ways for the immigrant rights movement in the coming days.

Maria Elena Durazo, leader of the 800,000 members Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the nations labor movement was “entirely behind you”. Labor union members along with community activists lead the security for the march. Durazo was joined by SEIU local 1877 President Mike Garcia in labor openness, where appropriate, to work stoppages as a form of pressure for immigrants rights.

California congresspersons Hilda Solis (D) and Linda Sanchez (D (D) said they were struggling hard against the anti immigrant measures of Republican leaders, Solis got rousing cheer when she told the crowd “we are fighting struggling in Congress help us in the elections!

The March 25 Los Angeles mass demonstration, was the largest in other mass immigration rights demonstrations during the week in Milwaukee, Denver, Phoenix, Atlanta, New Jersey. On March 24 thousands of students in the Los Angeles area walked out of school Continued demonstrations are coming, the first was March 26 in Los Angeles where some 2000 members of the United Farm workers Union joined by another 2000 supporters to a rally and mass commemorating the birthday of Cesar Chavez by calling for immigrant rights.

Dolores Huerta, a cofounder of the UFW with Chavez said the farm workers would picket and demonstrate at the offices of every Republican politician in California if the Republican leadership moves forward with anti immigrant legislation.****Rep. Howard Berman (D CA) a veteran of the House Judiciary Committee said that it would be possible to pass an acceptable comprehensive reform bill in the House, overturning the previous vote on HR 4437, with continued pressure.****Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of the United Methodist Church California-Pacific Conference. Told the Chavez birthday celebration “we need an open policy, open minds, open hearts and open borders.”

From The North Star Bulletin