Immigrants Take To The Streets This Saturday
Reporting from Los Angeles
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their allies will attend May Day events across the country on Saturday. An estimated 80 marches and rallies are taking place across in the United States, but the biggest may be in Los Angeles. Event coordinators expect to see a surge of people marching this year due to the immigrant legislation that was passed in Arizona.
The immigrant rally in Washington DC that took place on March 31 was a preview of the nationwide mobilizations planned for May 1. The streets of Boston, San Francisco, Albany, New York City, San Jose, and many others are expected to be flooded with people who will march to demand comprehensive immigration reform.
Taking a day off from his job at a restaurant, Jose Gutierrez plans to wear a white t-shirt and attend the march on Saturday. He says that the immigrant law that passed in Arizona has prompted him to take action, even though he has friends that are afraid to go to the rally.
“There is fear now here and in Arizona. Some people are moving elsewhere. A law like that can come to California and what are we going to do? Leave or keep fighting so that laws like that don’t take effect,” said Gutierrez.
Organizers expect 100,000 to attend the march in Los Angeles. Community organizer. Rebeca ronquillo will be coming with members from her organization, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance or, KIWA.
Ronquillo says that with the recent wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the nation, immigrants have had a rude awakening to the fact that President Obama has dragged his feet on immigration reform.
“Everyone had so many hopes. Once the elections were over they thought everything is going to be OK, immigration reform is going to come. And that gave people a sense of peace thinking that everything was going to work out, and that was a big mistake,” Ronquillo explained.
Opposing views are not uncommon at May Day rallies and the Los Angeles Police Department will be out in full force to control the crowds. Mariana Huerta was raised in East Los Angeles. She says that it’s difficult to foster understanding with people who oppose immigration.
“I think that the community that is anti-immigrant has a very racist perspective on the new immigrant communities in the US,” Huerta said. “They fear that more people of color, especially brown skin people will move into their communities, and work in the industries that were not traditionally worked by immigrant workers. So, they feel threaten.”
In addition to Arizona’s new law, anti-immigrant policies are emerging in other places as well. On Wednesday, Costa Mesa mayor Allan Mansoor at a press conference that he will be contemplating proposals aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration. In the past Mansoor proposed a city ordinance that would ban the presence of day laborers.
Jorge-Mario Cabrera is with the Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights in Los Angeles or, CHIRLA, one of the main groups organizing the May Day march. His organization has been working with day laborers in Costa Mesa for seven years to protect their rights from the city laws. Advocates like him believe that marching united is now, more important that ever. But activists like Huerta say that people need to get out of their comfort zones and push to get comprehensive immigration reform, the end of ICE raids, the splitting up families and racially profiling immigrants.
On Thursday, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa urged people to not be afraid of attending the march on Saturday. He called the Arizona immigration law, “anti-immigrant and anti-American.”
To learn if there is a May Day march near you, click here.