The day the brown people took over
They can't be Americans, I don't see a Stars
and Bars in the crowd.
Immigrants Take to U.S. Streets in Show of Strength
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
Published: May 2, 2006
LOS ANGELES, May 1 — Hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their supporters skipped work, school and shopping on Monday and marched in dozens of cities from coast to coast.
The demonstrations did not bring the nation to a halt as planned by some organizers, though they did cause some disruptions and conveyed in peaceful but sometimes boisterous ways the resolve of those who favor loosening the country's laws on immigration.
Originally billed as a nationwide economic boycott under the banner "Day Without an Immigrant," the day evolved into a sweeping round of protests intended to influence the debate in Congress over granting legal status to all or most of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
The protesters, a mix of illegal immigrants and legal residents and citizens, were mostly Latino, but in contrast to similar demonstrations in the past two months, large numbers of people of other ethnicities joined or endorsed many of the events. In some cases, the rallies took on a broader tone of social action, as gay rights advocates, opponents of the war in Iraq and others without a direct stake in the immigration debate took to the streets.
"I think it's only fair that I speak up for those who can't speak for themselves," said Aimee Hernandez, 28, one of an estimated 400,000 people who turned out in Chicago, the site of one of the largest demonstrations. "I think we're just too many that you can't just send them back. How are you going to ignore these people?"
But among those who favor stricter controls on illegal immigration, the protests hardly impressed.
"When the rule of law is dictated by a mob of illegal aliens taking to the streets, especially under a foreign flag, then that means the nation is not governed by a rule of law — it is a mobocracy," Jim Gilchrist, a founder of the Minutemen Project, a volunteer group that patrols the United States-Mexico border, said in an interview.
While the boycott, an idea born several months ago among a small group of grass-roots immigration advocates here, may not have shut down the country, it was strongly felt in a variety of places, particularly those with large Latino populations.
Stores and restaurants in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York closed because workers did not show up or as a display of solidarity with demonstrators. In Los Angeles, the police estimated that more than half a million people attended two demonstrations in and near downtown. School districts in several cities reported a decline in attendance; at Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, only 17 percent of the students showed up, even though administrators and some protest organizers had urged students to stay in school.
The problem now is translating this into votes.
Gilchrist didn't get so far when he ran for Congress and hence the problem for the GOP. The people who really care, for the most part are Hispanic. There are far fewer whites who are going to make this a reason to vote in November. There are millions of non-voting hispanics who now understand voting is critical..
posted by Steve @ 11:42:00 AM