Rallies Sound the Drumbeat on Immigration
- Rallies Sound the Drumbeat on Immigration
By Shia Kapos & Paul Giblin
Published: September 5, 2006
The New York Times
BATAVIA, Ill., Sept. 4 - Spirited groups of immigrant rights supporters
rallied in Illinois and Arizona on Monday in marches intended to keep the
drumbeat going for changes in immigration law.
Organizers of a rally in Phoenix, outside Arizona's copper-domed Capitol,
estimated their numbers at 4,000, though the police said the event drew
about 1,000 people.
In Batavia, a flag-waving crowd, estimated by the police at about 2,500,
chanted "Sí, se puede" - "Yes, we can" - and converged on the district
office of Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. In a counterrally sponsored by the
Chicago Minuteman Project, some 200 men, women and a few children jeered the
Neither Mr. Hastert nor his staff was on hand, and he could not be reached
Organizers hoped to pressure Mr. Hastert to push legislation favorable to
immigrants through Congress.
"We're here because we need to keep this issue alive," said Jorge Mujica,
50, a Mexican immigrant who helped organize the rally and who lives in
"We want to show that we didn't disappear after May 1," Mr. Mujica said,
referring to the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated nationwide that day
on the issue. "We're still marching. We're not going away."
Alfredo Gutierrez, at the rally in Phoenix, said that he was disappointed it
had not attracted more marchers but that he thought the debate had changed
in recent months. Immigrant rights activists who were initially so
optimistic have begun to lose hope, he said.
"That feeling that something would be accomplished has diminished almost
daily with every report of every negative thing that goes on with Congress,"
Mr. Gutierrez said.
The Arizona chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform
Now set up three tents, at which volunteers registered people to vote and
distributed postcards urging members of Arizona's Congressional delegation
to support a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants. Counterprotesters
gathered behind the main stage and shouted at the crowd, but security
personnel and the police generally kept the sides apart.
Fran Garrett, a volunteer with the anti-immigration group United for a
Sovereign America, based in Phoenix, said she was fed up with the
authorities who refused to arrest and deport illegal immigrants.
"They try to get the message out that they're here to do jobs and all that,"
Ms. Garrett said. "That's not true. They are here to take over eight states
of the United States, and they are going to do it by sheer numbers alone,
when they get enough people where they are the majority in a state."
In Batavia, 30 Chinese-Americans joined the mostly Latino crowd. One of
them, Man Li Wu, said through an interpreter that she had a daughter in
China who had tried for eight years to enter the United States.
"I'm 70 and I don't know how long I'll be able to wait," she said. "I want
to see my grandchildren." Members of the Chicago Minutemen say that living
in the United States is a privilege and should not be an easy process.
"Immigration laws aren't broken," said Evert Evertsen, 61, from Harvard,
Ill. "The problem is they're just not being enforced."
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