This was last year (May 1, 2006) in downtown Los Angeles
This year: May 1, 2007
Today here in Los Angeles traffic was unfortunately as snails paced as usual. Irritating drivers continued their ridiculously futile lane to lane dance, jostling for position in the hopes they might make it to their destination ten seconds earlier than the person they just passed, despite the fact that person will likely pass the moron who lapped them moments earlier. Semi’s blared their horns at idiots who hazardously dash in front of them. Little gardening trucks packed with Latino’s crowded their way up the carpool lane. All seemed as it should have been. There were no hints to indicate that anything out of the ordinary was happening today on this May 1, 2007.
This was a far cry from last year on this date. During the national “a day without an immigrant” (originally dubbed “a day without a Mexican” but other Latino groups balked at the self-centered label) the freeways were clear, moving at a brisk and extremely rare 70 mph and up. During the work week, speeds like this are unprecedented. May 1, 2006 even bettered most U.S. holidays for lack of traffic congestion. It was a welcome perk in the daily commute for most Los Angeles residents. Personally, I was looking forward to more boycotts and protests, if not for the better than average traffic, then at least as an alarm to the millions of American citizens around the country who were and still are sleeping through this invasion. Last year on their televisions they saw hundreds of thousands and millions of illegal’s all over the nation boldly demanding a right to be here and a right to blanket amnesty.
Since that day membership in the Minuteman Project has risen and the organizational support base of Americans for Legal Immigration has swelled considerably. U.S taxpayers interest and support for anti-illegal immigration has grown exponentially since the brouhaha of last year. The resulting increase in awareness of what is arguably the most detrimental issue facing California specifically and the nation generally, was a welcome development stemming from the legions of Mexican-flag-waving, anti-American illegal-aliens who have overrun the border.
Conversely, the unity of immigrant (presumptively the majority of which were illegal) pride in the one-day boycott made little overall impact in support of the illegal’s cause. Despite what activists would wish you believe, the economic repercussions were negligible. In fact, by shutting down for the day, by staying home from work or joining in on the festivities exactly one year ago, illegal-aliens and Latinos collectively boycotted their own neighborhoods and their own businesses, deleteriously affecting their own economy. They only hurt themselves.
But alas, it was not to be this year. In downtown Los Angeles as of this morning, no more than a couple of dozen protesters had arrived for the morning rally, and even the event organizers who were expected to attend had yet to appear (granted there might be a few thousand eventually, but it will still pale to last years turnout.) Whether illegal’s were too frightened to venture out as a result of the rising raids and deportations in 2006 (over 200,000–still a fraction of the over 12 million still here) or they simply felt the previous years demonstrations were counter-productive, hurting only themselves and their cause, one thing is clear: traffic sucked as usual today.
Number of Illegals in this Country – 20, 869, 818
Money Wired to Mexico Since January 2006 – $29, 249, 000, 000
Money Wired to Latin American Since 2001 – $259, 790, 000, 000
Cost of Social Services for Illegal Immigrants Since 1996 – $397, 455, 310, 700
Children of Illegals in Public Schools – 3, 992, 995
Cost of Illegals in K-12 Since 1996 – $14, 095, 672,000
Illegal Immigrants Incarcerated – 335, 392
Cost of Incarcerations Since 2001 – $1, 410, 101,000
Illegal Immigrant Fugitives – 645, 908
Anchor Babies Since 2002 – 1, 973, 786
Skilled Jobs Taken By Illegal Immigrants – 9, 927, 261
Protesters demanding ‘rights’ for illegal aliens
‘We are indigenous! The ONLY owners of this continent’
Posted: May 1, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Bob Unruh
© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com
Lining up behind slogans such as “IM A Imigrant” and the diatribe of a convicted murderer, demonstrators at hundreds of sites across the U.S. are using May Day to demand a long list of special accommodations for illegal aliens, and one group advocating for stricter immigration control actually is pleased.
William Gheen, the chief of Americans for Legal Immigration told WND that when such demonstrations happen, his list of supporters grows.
“We’re happy they’re going to march again, because our supporter base almost doubled last May [during the last May Day protests],” he told WND.
Demonstrations have been planned in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Dallas, as well as other locales, with a slogan of: “We are indigenous! The ONLY owners of this continent!” signed by a group called stolencontinent.
“No human is illegal!” said another, and still another “Stand for immigrant rights.” There was a picture of a young girl with the words “IM A Imigrant” on her cheek.
The list of demands being distributed by the National Immigration Solidarity Network said all “anti-immigrant legislation” and “the criminalization of the immigrant communities” must go.
The list of demands also included a “no” to “militarization of the border” “immigrant detention and deportation.” Also “no” to guest worker programs and employer sanctions.
What this group, and others carrying the same message, are demanding is a “path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,” speedy family reunification, access to all “civil rights” and “labor rights” as well as education and privileges for the “LGBT immigrant.”
“We are calling a national day of multi-ethnic unity with youth, labor, peace and justice communities in solidarity with immigrant workers and building new immigrant rights & civil rights movement! Wear White T-Shirt, organize actions to support immigrant rights! WE ARE ALL HUMANS! NO ONE IS ILLEGAL!” said the website, which offers translations into Arabic and several other languages.
But Gheen said such activities actually reveal to the population in general just what is going on, and the support builds for legal immigration then. He said for example, in just one area of southern California a year ago, those demanding all of the U.S. Constitution’s protections for citizens be granted to illegal aliens clashed three times with police.
WND also has reported that a coalition that put 100,000 marchers onto Phoenix streets for last year’s march demanding legalization for undocumented aliens is expecting to turn out only 5,000 to 10,000 participants this year.
The dozens of labor unions, church and religious groups and Hispanic groups that marched under the banner of the We Are America/Somos America coalition have fragmented this year because of differences over tactics, leadership and fundraising methods.
A bill, introduced in the House in March, would provide legalization, but only after illegals returned to their home country first. This “touch back” provision is opposed by the We Are America coalition, while others see it as a pragmatic compromise to get a bill passed in Congress.
Gheen also said the conflicts and confrontations reveal that “these illegal aliens are not our friends, and many of them resent and hate use for perceived historical transgressions.”
One of the rallying points being circulated this year is a special message from former radio journalist and Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of drawing his .38-caliber revolver and shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulker in the face.
It happened on the night of Dec. 9, 1981, when Faulker, then 12 days short of his 26th birthday and still a newlywed, spotted William Cook, Abu-Jamal’s brother, driving the wrong way down a one-way street. After Faulkner pulled Cook over, a scuffle followed and Abu-Jamal, who was sitting in the taxicab he drove at the time, ran across the street to the scene. According to prosecutors, Abu-Jamal, who was armed with a revolver, fired at Faulkner, hitting him in the back. The wounded officer turned and returned fire, hitting Abu-Jamal in the chest. Abu-Jamal then shot Faulkner in the face.
Abu-Jamal maintained his innocence and claimed he was shot by police as he ran toward the scuffle. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1982, but he’s become a celebrity and a federal judge overturned his death sentence in 2001.
In a statement publicized by several pro-illegal alien organizations, he called for support for the immigrants.
“There are only two peoples living on the land we call America who weren’t immigrants – the Indigenous – so-called Indians – and African Americans who were dragged here in chains and terror,” the convict wrote. “Every other person immigrated here or his ancestors did from Europe, from China, from India, from Ireland and yes, from Mexico. Truth be told, America was a land of Spanish settlement long before it because English and there’s the rub.”
He said the “brouhaha over immigration” now is “mostly a fear of the browning of America.”
“Celebrate May Day by building workers’ movements. On the move! Viva May Day!” he said.
Gheen was upset over his comparison. “It is ridiculous to compare Africans sold into slavery, put into chains, murdered on ships on their way here with people who intentionally and knowingly violate our borders and break into the country every night,” he said.
A report in the Suburban Chicago News noted that the two sides cannot even agree on what to call the people involved in the dispute: immigrants or illegal aliens.
The protests and demonstrations aren’t for everyone, however. “We work. We have to continue to pay taxes so the illegals can continue to get their free benefits,” Rosanna Pulido, director of Illinois Minuteman, told the newspaper in Chicago.
Gheen also said the arguments over “civil rights” aren’t valid.
“No offense to the fine and law-abiding people of Mexico, but no Mexican should ever lecture an American about civil rights. We invented it and we are the home of civil rights. There have been no successful civil rights movements in Guatamala, Brazil, Mexico or El Salvador,” he said.
A website called Mayday Movement has compiled information about the various demonstrations and protests, and one e-mailer noted that he does look at the “human side” of immigration.
“They’ve stolen my neighborhood where I had a lovely home for 19 years, and planned to live there through retirement. … Gangs, illegitimate births, filth became the norm … Property values went to hell, crime rate went up … yep, I definitely look at the human side of it … they all cost me my life,” he wrote.
He cited a small protest in Houston that happened in the days leading up to May Day.
“About 300 to 400 participants beat drums, blew whistles and carried signs and banners along with U.S. and Mexican flags. One sign read ‘Today we march, tomorrow we vote,’” according to a report.
President Bush has lobbied for revisions to U.S. immigration policies and procedures, saying it is a “critical challenge” to respond to the needs of an estimated 12 million illegal aliens.
The demonstrations and protests are scheduled on May Day because May first is International Workers’ Day, which actually began in the United States in the 1880s with the fight for the eight-hour work day.
As they did last year, demonstrators waved U.S. flags and declared their desire to flex economic muscles despite the sharply lower numbers at a time when immigration issues continue on the Washington agenda.
Along with marches in California, demonstrations were reported in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Phoenix as protesters demanded a path for citizenship for an estimated 12 million to 13 million undocumented workers as well as other changes being negotiated within a Democrat-controlled Congress.
In Los Angeles, a morning demonstration started on Olympic Boulevard at Broadway with a handful of protesters, but by midday at City Hall the crowd had grown to more than 10,000 people shouting “Si, Se Puede,” or “Yes, It Can Be Done,” the Latino rallying cry for political power.
“We have to show Congress that we’re good people,” said Blanca Duenas, who joined the crowd with her husband Jose. “We’re here and we’re not leaving.”
Los Angeles construction worker Andreas Meza, 41, was on his back waving an American flag earlier. A sign saying “Legalize Now,” was pasted on the banner.
“Government likes to have me like this. I don’t want to be like this,” said the illegal immigrant, who came from Mexico nearly 20 years ago. “I have necessities.”
The first of today’s two demonstrations gathered steam through the morning as it moved along Broadway, yet even at more than 10,000 strong it remained far smaller that last year’s demonstration, when about 650,000 poured through the streets of Los Angeles in the largest demonstration in the nation.
“It’s smaller than we anticipated,” Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Louis H. Gray Jr. said about 11 a.m. “Last year at this time, I’d say there were at least 300,000 to 400,000 people.”
Officials last year were caught off-guard by the size of the demonstration and were determined not to surprised again. Plans were made to close roads, the police presence was beefed up and some owners closed their stores along the march route.
The economic impact of the boycott was limited, though some stores in the area did less business than usual.
Los Angeles is crucial to any national turnout because Southern California is home to more than 1 million illegal immigrants.
Manuel Nunez, 40, a member of the Associacion Fraternidades Guatemaltecas, a network of hometown clubs that raises money for public works projects in Guatemala, said that last year all immigrants were encouraged to participate in the May 1 march.
But this year, Nunez, an illegal immigrant who works in the construction business, said people were told to participate if they could “but not to risk losing their jobs.”
Last year’s protests were emotionally fueled by Los Angeles students – united in an electronic web of cellphone text messages and e-mails. They fled their classes to march and clog roads.
This year, city, school district and church leaders urged students to stay in school, and the pleas seemed to have been heeded.
About 600 students had walked out from less than a dozen Los Angeles Unified School District campuses — far fewer than had been anticipated, the district reported.
The largest group, according to district officials, came from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, where about 150 students left. Students from all schools were being escorted by either school district police or school administrators and there were no reports of any altercations or accidents involving students.
If needed, school buses will be sent downtown later in the afternoon to provide students rides back to their campuses, said district spokeswoman Monica Carazo.
March organizers said part of the reason for the low turnout was confusion over the starting time. Originally, the march was called for 10 a.m., with a rally two hours later at City Hall. Some people thought the march wouldn’t begin until noon.
A second march is scheduled for 2 p.m. beginning at Vermont Avenue and 3rd Street and proceeding to MacArthur Park.
In recent days, national organizers have been lowering expectations of this year’s protests, saying that nothing could match last year’s 1 million to 1.5 million demonstrators across the country.
Last year, Congress was considering a draconian law that would have punished undocumented workers and those who help them. While there is no agreement on immigration reform this year, none of the proposals are as harsh as last year’s.
Organizers also say there was a growing fear among illegal immigrants to express themselves, caused by federal raids across the country.
Immigration has divided the government and the nation for years.
At the center of the issue is an estimated 12 million undocumented workers; some sources place the number at as high as 20 million. Many U.S. conservatives oppose what they call plans for amnesty that would involve those workers getting a path to citizenship. A coalition including some unions and businesses favor some form of legalization.
Immigration reform failed last year in the Republican-controlled Congress, and the outlook is uncertain this year even with the Democrats in charge. President Bush has strongly backed immigration reform, often putting him at odds with lawmakers in his own party.
The Senate is expected to debate immigration at the end of the month with the House debate coming later. There has been no agreement on the contents of a bill, but there is agreement that immigration should be decided this year before it gets stuck in the presidential election.
The impact of today’s demonstration was unclear because the numbers were lower than last year.
In Chicago, tens of thousands of demonstrators were reported. As many as 10,000 to 15,000 turned out in Phoenix, while in southwest Detroit, which has a large Latino population, hundreds wore red and white and carried American flags to a rally.
In New York, groups planned an “American Family Tree” rally, where immigrants would pin paper leaves on a large painting of a tree to symbolize the separation of families because of strict immigration laws.
Two hours before the march in Los Angeles, one of the busiest places in Little Tokyo was the Starbucks at the corner of 2nd Street and Central Avenue. The large number of parking enforcement officers and LAPD bike patrol officers boosted the crowd, but a sizable number of downtown residents were also waiting in line for their morning caffeine fix.
David Morin, who moved to L.A. two days ago from Quebec City, Canada, was reading about the demonstration plans in the morning paper. Morin was among the lucky ones – his new job is at a downtown ad agency only a few blocks away. To beat the crowds, he said, his boss told him to come in early – before 8 a.m.
The crowd kept Gabriela Grajeda, a 25-year-old Starbucks barista, from getting an early departure to her classes at Cal State Los Angeles, where she is majoring in child development. She usually travels by bus to school but today she arranged to ride with a friend in case the demonstration disrupted mass transit.
Grajeda marched last year, but this year “I have classes and I don’t want to miss them,” she said.
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