I have covered many immigration marches over the years. The chant “La raza, unida, jamas sera vencida!” and “Si se puede” are deeply etched into my mind. This May Day, thousands marched once again for immigration reform. But there was frustration among many, who said the stalled efforts in Congress for real reform has created a patchwork of laws nationwide that many Latinos call racist. Here is my story on the march in downtown Los Angeles (Daily News, May, 2011).
Thousands of people held union banners and waved American flags during a peaceful march and rally through downtown Los Angeles Sunday, in a renewed effort to press the Obama administration for immigration reform and call on local businesses to boost workers’ rights.
Holding signs that read “No Arizona. No Wisconsin. We’re California,” and “Obama, Don’t Deport Dreamers,” marchers in the annual May Day rally aimed their protests toward Congress and President Barack Obama specifically. They accused them of allowing what many called a patchwork of racist laws against the undocumented to sprout up in states and municipalities.
“(Obama’s) not doing anything,” said Juan Guerrero, sporting a red, white and blue shirt.
“I voted for him last time, but I’m not voting for him again. Many Latinos won’t vote for him again,” said Guerrero, adding he was documented but his brother was not.
Accompanied by his 9-year-old son Angel, Guerrero said many Latinos supported Obama for president because of his forceful views on immigration reform. But so far, Obama has disappointed many.
Last year’s protests were largely fueled by an Arizona measure that gave police expanded powers to question and detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Twelve months later, many key pieces of the Arizona legislation remain mired in legal limbo, yet other states have tried to enact similar laws.
Many marchers said immigration reform will eliminate confusion and ensure that families don’t suffer as a result of raids that separate American-born children from undocumented parents.
“We want change in the nation,” said Lester Meza, a 16-year-old student from Esteban Torres High School in East Los Angeles.”
“When thousands of people are out here in the streets, it means something’s not right with the laws. I want peace for the country.”