Words By S.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

En el primero de Mayo…

Filed under: News,Politics — S @ 8:34 am

This was the most amazing display of Constitutional rights I have ever witnessed (well, read about in this case) during my lifetime. Unfortunately, it had to be done by people who, for the most part, were not even legal citizens of this country. I think that says a lot about the American population when we don't use what is our given, legal right – yet the people who are viewed as a threat to this country do.

While I have mixed feelings on the subject of the May Day protest, I have to say that I definitely applaud their efforts.

Also, Time magazine has a really cool slideshow up with pictures from all the protests, so check it out.

Hundreds of thousands march for immigrant rights

Schools, businesses feel impact as students, workers walk out

Wednesday, May 3, 2006; Posted: 2:19 a.m. EDT (06:19 GMT)

 

story.vegas.gi.jpg

Protesters gather Monday in the casino-lined area of Fremont Street in Las Vegas.

   

(CNN) — Kids skipped school. Men and women walked off their jobs. Others didn't bother going to work. Businesses shut down for lack of patrons or employees.

Throngs of immigrants and advocates took to the streets of many U.S. cities Monday to protest proposed immigration laws, and the sites represented a veritable where's where of American metropolises.

Among them: New York; Washington; Las Vegas, Nevada; Miami, Florida; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Watch sights and sounds from rallies across the nation — 6:01)

Organizers of the nationwide event, dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants," asked those opposing tighter restrictions on immigration — namely immigrants themselves — to flex their economic muscle by boycotting all aspects of commerce, including going to work and school.

Chicago was home to one of the largest protests, with about 300,000 demonstrators marching downtown, according to the city's emergency management center. Predominantly Latino schools in the city saw a 10 to 33 percent drop in attendance.

As protesters marched through the Windy City's business district, some waved Mexican and American flags and carried signs that read, "We're not terrorists" and "We build your homes."

It is unclear what impact the walkouts and demonstrations will have on the U.S. economy. The turnout was lower than predicted. Participants were likely to buy extra food and supplies before or after Monday. And absent employees will return to their jobs with extra work awaiting them. (Watch the economic impact of Monday's protests — 1:18)

Despite the numbers, police were not concerned that the protests would turn ugly; instead, they said, they were working with organizers to ensure the protests were peaceful.

No incidents were reported.

In New York, organizers arranged a human chain at 12:16 p.m. to symbolize December 16, 2005, the day a controversial bill passed the U.S. House that would make illegal immigrants felons and wall off about a third of the U.S.-Mexico border.

In all, 12,000 people turned out to form eight chains: five in Manhattan, one in Queens, one in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx, said Norman Eng of the New York Immigration Coalition.

From San Francisco to Miami

Los Angeles witnessed a massive protest, as at least 200,000 marched to City Hall on Monday morning, and 400,000 marched along the city's Wilshire Corridor on Monday evening.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called the protests "very positive" and said, "What's clear is that they're peaceful. What's clear is that they're in a celebratory mood."

In San Francisco, 55,000 people banged on drums while waving Mexican and American flags and chanting in Spanish, "We are united." Many businesses in the city's predominantly Mexican Mission neighborhood shut down.

In Washington, hundreds of protesters participated in a demonstration at Malcolm X Park, and several shops and restaurants closed for the protests.

But the vibe in the nation's capital was not totally pro-immigrant. A coalition of Hispanic-American groups held a news conference to stress that the protesters did not represent all Hispanics. (Watch how the boycott divided the immigration camp — 2:12)

Retired Col. Albert F. Rodriguez, a war veteran, said he understands the contribution immigrants have made to the United States, "but the difference is that we and millions of others like us did it legally. We're all here today to tell all those illegal protesters, 'You do not speak for me.' "

In other protests, more than a thousand gathered for a march and rally in New Orleans, which has seen an influx of immigrant labor since Hurricane Katrina left the city in ruins last year. Many construction businesses shut down for the day.

Atlanta saw a similar-sized crowd at the state Capitol, and many immigrant-owned businesses shut down for the day. Thousands also marched in Denver, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; Miami, Florida, Homestead, Florida; Salem, Oregon; and Portland, Oregon.

Despite the turnout across the nation, some who typically support immigrants questioned the effectiveness of a day without them.

One of those was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Latino, who said he was concerned about sending the message that immigrants "come to America to work, yet they're not working."

"I'd rather see the individuals, all these demonstrations, going to congressional offices, pushing the Congress to act on immigration reform," Richardson said.

Another Latino lawmaker, Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, said he understood the purpose of the rallies but added that a boycott "is not the right way to go about it." (Watch Martinez call for action from his fellow lawmakers — 9:06)

Congressional stalemate

Reform bills have stalled in Congress, primarily because Republicans and Democrats cannot agree — even among themselves at times — what should be done about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

The Senate is considering a proposal that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal status, and eventually citizenship, by working for six years, paying a fine, undergoing a background check and learning English.

Supporters of the idea call it "earned citizenship," but opponents denounce it as "amnesty."

When the House passed immigration reform in December, it took a much tougher line. The House bill contains no mechanism for illegal immigrants to earn legal status, makes illegal immigration a felony and calls for building 700 miles of security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The provision making illegal immigration a felony has been a real bone of contention, to the point that GOP leaders who once supported it have now indicated they are likely to drop the proposal when House and Senate negotiators meet to hash out final details of the bill.

President Bush has said he would like negotiators to include in the bill a guest-worker program that will allow immigrants into the country to fill jobs that Americans can't or won't do.

Bush has adamantly opposed "automatic amnesty" for illegal immigrants already in the country, but he has expressed support for "a bill that says somebody who's working here on a legal basis has the right to get in line to become a citizen."

About 7.2 million illegal immigrants hold jobs in the United States, making up 4.9 percent of the overall labor force, according to a recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington, D.C.

Undocumented workers make up 24 percent of farm workers and hold 14 percent of construction jobs, the study found.

The Senate is expected to take up immigration reform before Memorial Day.

CNN's Ines Ferre, Lydia Garlikov, Keith Oppenheim, Scott Spoerry, Kristi Keck and Harris Whitbeck contributed to this report.

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7 Comments »

  1. These efforts may be passionate, but they’re irrational. These are people breaking laws in another country. They’re acting like black citizens in the 1950s, yet they have much, much less reason to. They’re using the methods of the Freedom Marchers of the Civil Rights movements, yet I find no real backing for their using of it. They’re ancestors were not forced into slavery two hundred years ago. African Americans deserve the respect they have been demanding. Illegal Mexicans do not deserve the respect they’re demanding -they fucking broke the law.

    I want people to be able to come here and make a better life for themselves, and I believe our policies on citizenship should be more accessible for those too poor to afford it now. However, these protesters that are expecting to get a job in America -when a single mother in poverty who’s lived in the US all her life wants the job too should just look at the fact that they’re breaking the law. Doesn’t mean the law is always right, but don’t mock Civil Rights history when you’ve little weight to do so.

    That’s what I think of this. I mean, wouldn’t you be pissed if you lived in Southern California and applied for a job at, say some generic 5.15 an hour job, and you really needed it to pay off your son or daughter’s hospital bill (because you have no insurance) and then an illegal immigrant got it instead? I would be pissed.

    Comment by Angela — Thursday, 4 May 2006 @ 12:02 am | Reply

  2. You see, this is where we differ. I do not see it as irrational at all. I also do not view it as them immitating the civil rights movement. I see them enacting the right for peaceful assembly – even though as non-citizens, they do not, technically, have this right. I think it's admirable. I think that it's a sign to show Americans how to make an impact on the government. Also, they were not protesting for the right to work – they were protesting for the right to not have the same status as a murderer for coming into the country to work.

    I also do not blame them for not being legal citizens, because you have to take into account their resources and the process for becoming a legal immigrant. A lot of countries do not make it easy for people to gain citizenship into America. Mexico is one of those countries. In addition, not all of the protestors were Mexican or of Hispanic descent, although it is a good portion of what you see depicted.

    I also cannot say that I would prefer an American to get a particular job over an illegal immigrant. I just can't. It sounds strange, yes, but you also have to take into account the resources that Americans have that illegal immigrants do not. When an American applies for a $5.15/hr. job and doesn't get it over an illegal immigrant, you better believe that the immigrant is not getting paid $5.15 for that job.

    A lot of people that come over to the U.S. do so to support their families at home. So, while they're getting paid their 18 cents per hour that is being taxed, yet they get no repreieve, they're sending what little money they make back to their families at home. And I cannot fault them for that.

    Comment by S — Thursday, 4 May 2006 @ 7:35 am | Reply

  3. I did make the point that I do believe policy has to change as far as becoming a citizen goes. That’s the problem that can certaintly change.

    And, I agree with you on the wage issue. You’re right, a Mexican, even if legal, would most likely be discriminated against. Our own women are discriminated. That’s you and I, S. You’re right, too, where are our asses on that issue? Not thinking too much about it and IM’ing each other. It’s just a different world we live in and it’s neither right nor wrong, it’s just too complicated to really justify either way. Basically, what I think I am saying at 1 AM is, uhm, I wish we would have gotten better service at Taco Loco.

    I guess I just fucked our debate. I am sorry. But, this whole mess is saddening to me regardless of anyone’s opinion because it’s just another issue that will probably never really get resolved. Damn living in the world.

    Is it wrong to say that I am now fantasizing about the burrito I had at Luchita’s with you?

    Comment by Angela-The Knit-Kit — Sunday, 7 May 2006 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  4. No, because I’m still fantasizing at the flautas I never got to eat.

    Damn you, Taco Loco! Damn you!

    Comment by S — Monday, 8 May 2006 @ 7:08 am | Reply

  5. Yeah. I suppose Taco Loco isn’t the one for everyone. They don’t even have flautas. They do have chicken tacos though. That equals everlasting love. Though, I have had my heart closer to the “wet burrito” I had at Luchita’s. El Everlasting love.

    Comment by Angela-The Knit-Kit — Tuesday, 9 May 2006 @ 2:02 am | Reply

  6. you`re lovely. http://www.berwyntownship.xsnebraska.com

    Comment by malden — Sunday, 2 July 2006 @ 2:05 am | Reply

  7. Thank you.

    Comment by S — Thursday, 13 July 2006 @ 5:13 pm | Reply


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