Immigrant-rights protestors take to streets

Some 200,000 flag-waving, sign-carrying protesters marched in cities across the United States on Tuesday in orchestrated rallies intended to demonstrate the political might of Latinos and win amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Immigrant-rights protestors take to streets
Some 200,000 flag-waving, sign-carrying protesters marched in cities across the United States on Tuesday in orchestrated rallies intended to demonstrate the political might of Latinos and win amnesty for illegal immigrants.

But the May Day demonstrations failed to live up to the promise of last year, when some 500,000 people poured into the streets of Los Angeles and Chicago in marches that were hailed as the start of a new American civil rights movement.

Organizers blamed the lower turnouts in part on the failure of Spanish-language media to galvanize young people. Experts said immigrants and their leaders felt less urgency since a tough reform bill from last year was no longer before Congress.

The marchers waved U.S. and Mexican flags and said they were angry about raids to nab illegal workers and Congress' failure to grant them amnesty. They hope to send a message to Washington as the 2008 presidential race heats up.

In Los Angeles, where an estimated 500,000 people marched in 2006, about 25,000 people converged on City Hall.

"Being here for so long, working for so many years, paying taxes for so many years, going to school for so many years and not being able to exist, basically, I'm a ghost," said Isaias Gonzalez, who said he came to the United States from Acapulco illegally in 1989.

Later at the city's MacArthur Park, Los Angeles police cut a rally short after about 80 people began throwing rocks and bottles at police, according to Sgt. R. Kanzaki. Police fired rubber cartridges to disperse the crowd of 3,000 and no arrests were made, he said.

The nation's largest protest was in Chicago, where some 150,000 people, many angry over an FBI raid on an illegal document service in a Latino district, marched into downtown, filling streets from curb to curb and spilling onto the sidewalks.

The crowd was smaller than last year and almost entirely Hispanic, compared to a year ago on the same route where other nationalities were prominently visible.

In Milwaukee, some 30,000 to 60,000 demonstrators marched to a park on Lake Michigan, according to media reports. Hundreds of people turned out for a rally in New York City's Union Square.

Marchers also turned out in Denver and Phoenix to demand better treatment for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. In Washington, some 200 people marched and criticized raids which they said had taken immigrant parents away from their children.

The rallies come as U.S. lawmakers seek to write an immigration bill that would provide tougher border control and workplace enforcement while addressing the status of illegal immigrants.

"If we don't pass immigration legislation this year, we are going to have to wait a couple of more years because I don't see the legislation moving next year when there is a presidential race," said Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California.

Federal legislation to create a "guest-worker" program and offer many illegal immigrants eventual citizenship failed in Washington last year in the face of stiff opposition from Republicans.

Students in Los Angeles, who last year were exhorted by Spanish-language disc jockeys to walk out of classes, were told by teachers to stay in school.

"A year ago there were some key decisions before Congress and people could be turned out with the promise that their time and voices would lead to a specific outcome," said Louis Desipio, a professor of political science at the University of California at Irvine.

"Also that level of organization simply doesn't exist this year because there wasn't as much of a consensus," he added. "There wasn't a specific issue on which to organize."
Last Mod: 02 Mayıs 2007, 10:16
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