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Archive for the ‘A Day Without An Immigrant’ Category

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I will say this at the beginning: During the May 1st illegal alien rally held in McArthur Park two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Police Department personnel stationed in that area responded far too excessively to a situation that required a determined and disciplined counter to a few thugs who used the rally for their own anarchistic ends.

Instead, the LAPD blew it. They blew it for themselves as an organization that seems eternally steeped in community recovery efforts, and to a lesser degree, they blew it for people such as myself who remain staunch advocates opposed to illegal immigration. Everyone understands and most reasonably agree the LAPD far exceeded their use of force (but not their authority) during the McArthur Park rally. Chief Bill Bratton was the first to come forward and accept responsibility for the unnecessarily brutal actions taken by those under his command (Mayor Villaraigosa was nowhere to be found–he was dubiously conducting international diplomacy in Latin America.) Bratton condemned those actions and he immediately punished officers who took the lead in the debacle. Additionally, the chief has borne witness to countless community members (I won’t say citizens since most are probably illegals) during public meetings as he and the LAPD in general were vilified and disparaged by a myriad of angry Los Angeles residents–people whose ire, without deviation was directed squarely upon Bratton and the police department. Again, understandably so and the police chief admitted as much.

Yet those who came out in denunciation against the rock and bottle-throwing hoodlums responsible for triggering the entire mess in the first place were few and far between, if there were any at all. The police response was disproportionate, antagonistic, and irresponsible. The thugs who initiated the whole mess were and are despicable. Yet even our Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said little to excoriate the few dirt bags who turned a relatively peaceful day into something that is now dramatically referred to as “The May Day Melee.” Instead, he has joined the mass of legal citizens and illegal aliens who simply wish to impugn the entirety of the LAPD.

Going that extra mile, as he is always want to do in situation where he’s guaranteed a high degree of media attention, Villaraigosa has decided to turn his back on the Los Angeles Police Department by attending a highly publicized rally taking place this evening in McArthur Park. The rally is being headed by Nativo Lopez, left-wing illegal alien proponent, open borders advocate, and amnesty champion for 12 to 20 million criminals living in the United States in direct violation of our laws. And Los Angeles Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, along with illegal-aliens-should-have-a-drivers-license-too Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, will be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Lopez at this obviously anti-LAPD rah-rah.

While I’m most likely repeating myself, Villaraigosa has chosen not to represent me as a legal resident of the United States and citizen of Los Angeles. Nor does he represent any of the other millions of legal Angelinos unfortunate enough to live under his reign. Villaraigosa is squarely in league with illegal aliens and Mexican nationals who break our laws, who run down our education system, who destroy our state health care institutions, who import and sell drugs, and who murder legal citizens. Villaraigosa has declared his deplorable intentions against me and everyone else of legal status in this city–he cares not for our concerns. Yet if you’re an illegal alien, he’ll be there for you. He may even let you register to vote.

Of course, this only further brings to light the breaking news of the day concerning the immigration reform/amnesty bill agreement between several “key senators.” Any bill or law that focuses on amnesty first and border enforcement second, as does this one, will ultimately fail with disastrous results. How many times does it need to be said? Secure the border first, then look at dealing with the millions of illegals already in this country.

One important factor many of the apparently clueless political progenitors in charge of the country seem to overlook is the simple fact of repetition from absolution acutely evidenced after the illegal alien amnesty granted back in 1986. After that amnesty the U.S. saw one of the largest floods of illegals pour into this country–more illegals hoping for another amnesty–simply because they did not take border enforcement seriously prior to passing that legislation. And it will happen again if anything resembling an amnesty passes. Not only do we receive multitudes more before a proposed amnesty, without a secure border we simply repeat the process ad infinitum until this country is buried under the weight of its imported and impoverished masses. The third world latino dystopias that fester in most of our large cities will boil over with disillusionment, anger, and eventual rebellion pointed at those considered the elite–the middle-class. Don’t think it will happen? Look at the suburban Paris riots of 2005. It’s nearly the same scenario. Little to no attempt at assimilation by these groups only expands the chasm between their culture and ours, worsening the situation even further.

Perhaps this will all one day be moot anyway. With the recent discovery that ethically questionable groups such as the National Council of La Raza and MALDEF are being allowed virtual veto power over any immigration bill that does not meet with their standards and their demands (see below), one can discern where this road we’re traveling is likely guiding us.

Maybe affirmative action laws aren’t so bad. As an Anglo living in the United States of the future, I may need them.

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Mayor, Speaker To Join Rally Protesting LAPD Behavior

Police Chief Also Plans To Attend; Deputy Chief To Retire

POSTED: 6:38 am PDT May 17, 2007

UPDATED: 11:59 am PDT May 17, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez are among those expected to join immigrant-rights activists Thursday for a march and rally to denounce the actions of Los Angeles riot police at a May Day rally at MacArthur Park.

The event will begin with a town hall-style meeting at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, followed by a 10-block procession to MacArthur Park, where organizers will hold a candlelight vigil and a series of performances.

“The LAPD denied our community both a political and physical space to nonviolently claim our rights to legalization for all undocumented immigrants and a fair immigration reform for the country,” said the event’s organizer, Mexican American Political Association President Nativo Lopez. “Political leaders and organizations throughout the country stand solidly with us.”

Due to street closures for the event, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will reroute 14 bus lines operating on and around Wilshire Boulevard between 4 and 10 p.m.

The affected bus lines are 18, 20, 21, 26, 51, 52, 200, 201, 204, 209, 352, 603, 720 and 754, according to Metro officials. Signs will be posted at affected bus stops to inform riders when and where the buses will be detoured.

Demonstrators, journalists and police officers were injured at the end of an immigration march in MacArthur Park May 1, when police tried to disperse some people who moved off the sidewalk into Alvarado Street.

Some demonstrators responded by throwing plastic bottles and rocks at officers, according to police. Officers clad in riot gear used batons and fired 146 rounds of foam-rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

A preliminary version of the LAPD’s after-action report will be heard by the full City Council on May 30. In a separate investigation, the department is checking into complaints filed by demonstrators and journalists injured during the fracas.

A third LAPD investigation is aimed at searching for those who allegedly started the confrontation by throwing rocks and plastic bottles at officers.

Separately, the Police Commission is investigating the matter, while the FBI launched a preliminary probe to determine whether the LAPD committed civil rights violations.

Police Chief William Bratton has blamed a leadership breakdown at the scene for police measures that he has described as inappropriate.

Bratton, who will be at the LAPD’s assembly area at today’s rally, according to his office, told KPCC-FM on Wednesday that the ranking officer who was in MacArthur Park during the May 1 melee has decided to retire rather than continue on home duty pending an investigation.

Bratton announced last week that Deputy Chief Cayler “Lee” Carter Jr. Carter was being demoted from deputy chief to commander and reassigned from his job as command officer of Operations Central Bureau to his home.

The chief said Wednesday that Carter has decided to retire effective June 6.

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Agreement Reached on Immigration Reform

May 17 01:41 PM US/Eastern
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Key senators and the White House reached agreement Thursday on an immigration overhaul that would grant quick legal status to millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and fortify the border. The plan would create a temporary worker program to bring new arrivals to the U.S. A separate program would cover agricultural workers. New high-tech enforcement measures also would be instituted to verify that workers are here legally.

The compromise came after weeks of painstaking closed-door negotiations that brought the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans together with President Bush’s Cabinet officers to produce a highly complex measure that carries heavy political consequences.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he expects Bush to endorse the agreement.

The accord sets the stage for what promises to be a bruising battle next week in the Senate on one of Bush’s top non-war priorities.

The key breakthrough came when negotiators struck a bargain on a so- called “point system” that would for the first time prioritize immigrants’ education and skill level over family connections in deciding how to award green cards.

The draft bill “gives a path out of the shadows and toward legal status for those who are currently here” illegally, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

A spokesman for Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., one of his party’s key players in the talks, confirmed that the group had reached agreement.

The proposed agreement would allow illegal immigrants to come forward and obtain a “Z visa” and—after paying fees and a $5,000 fine—ultimately get on track for permanent residency, which could take between eight and 13 years. Heads of household would have to return to their home countries first.

They could come forward right away to claim a probationary card that would let them live and work legally in the U.S., but could not begin the path to permanent residency or citizenship until border security improvements and the high-tech worker identification program were completed.

A new temporary guest worker program would also have to wait until those so-called “triggers” had been activated.

Those workers would have to return home after work stints of two years, with little opportunity to gain permanent legal status or ever become U.S. citizens. They could renew their guest worker visas twice, but would be required to leave for a year in between each time.

Democrats had pressed instead for guest workers to be permitted to stay and work indefinitely in the U.S.

In perhaps the most hotly debated change, the proposed plan would shift from an immigration system primarily weighted toward family ties toward one with preferences for people with advanced degrees and sophisticated skills. Republicans have long sought such revisions, which they say are needed to end “chain migration” that harms the economy, while some Democrats and liberal groups say it’s an unfair system that rips families apart.

Family connections alone would no longer be enough to qualify for a green card—except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens.

New limits would apply to U.S. citizens seeking to bring foreign-born parents into the country.

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Latino Groups Play Key Role on Hill

Virtual Veto Power in Immigration Debate

By Krissah Williams and Jonathan Weisman

Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 16, 2007; Page A04

When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) declared last week that unnamed “stakeholders” would decide whether Congress overhauls immigration law this year, Latino organizations in Washington understood exactly what he meant.

After laboring in obscurity for decades, groups such as the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Forum are virtually being granted veto power over perhaps the biggest domestic issue coming before Congress this year. Organizations that represent what is now the nation’s largest minority group are beginning to achieve power commensurate with their numbers.

“There’s a real sense that the Latino community is key to the solution in this debate, so now they are reaching out to us more than ever,” said Eric Gutierrez, lead lobbyist for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF. “Neither party wants to make a misstep politically.”

Such groups were practically in the room yesterday, maintaining contact as Democratic and Republican senators tried to hammer out a new immigration bill before a deadline set by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for today before he moved it last night to Monday. The contours began to emerge for a bill that would couple a tightening of border controls with a guest-worker program and new avenues for an estimated 12 million undocumented workers to work legally.

Negotiators agreed yesterday that illegal immigrants would be granted a new Z Visa, allowing legal residency for eight years. During that time, the head of an undocumented household would have to temporarily go back to the home country to apply for permanent U.S. legal status for his or her family. Holders of Z Visas would then have to pay a fine and back taxes, undergo a criminal background check, and begin to work toward citizenship.

But Republicans and Democrats were still trying to bridge a deep divide over two remaining issues: Whether 400,000 foreigners entering the country as temporary workers would have to leave the country after three years or be granted a chance to stay permanently, and how extended family ties should be weighed in granting visas to those seeking to enter the country.

A deal on those tough issues could depend on the assent of Kennedy’s “stakeholders,” Democratic negotiators agreed. Democratic leaders, who are fighting for the loyalty of the fast-growing Latino electorate, have no desire to embrace legislation that could end up alienating the voters they are trying to woo.

The early word from the groups is not promising.

“Some of the proposals that are coming from the negotiations in the Senate and White House are measures that the immigrant community advocates are wholly against, particularly the elimination of some aspects of family reunification,” said William Ramos, a spokesman for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The groups also oppose a policy that would force immigrants to return to their home countries for an extended period and to petition for reentry.

Latino organizations know well that they have muscle to flex. A bill passed by the House last year that would have made illegal immigration a felony drove millions of Latinos into the streets in cities across the country last spring.

When the current immigration law was written 21 years ago, the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, tacitly approved the legislation, even though it provided no direct path to citizenship for most temporary workers. But the Latino community was much smaller then, and illegal immigration was a regional issue, confined mostly to California, Texas and New York.

Today, U.S. citizens of Latino descent, having eclipsed African Americans as the nation’s largest minority, are far more organized and politically active. “We’re not going to let them screw it up,” said Brent A. Wilkes, LULAC’s national executive director.

LULAC, MALDEF, La Raza and the National Immigration Forum are part of a broad network of immigrant rights groups that hold nightly conference calls and strategy sessions on the legislation. The groups speak daily with top aides in Reid’s and Kennedy’s offices.

The White House, well aware that immigration may offer President Bush his last best chance at a major domestic achievement for his second term, has worked hard to keep the groups on board, even as Bush has shifted to the right with a new plan that is tougher than the proposals he embraced last year.

The White House held a meeting 2 1/2 weeks ago with Latino advocates, labor unions and civil rights organizations in which an adviser outlined an administration’s policy based on increased border security and a temporary-worker program. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez have also met with some of the groups.

“At least they are paying attention to us,” said MALDEF President John Trasviña.

The groups have also made it clear to Republicans that they are willing to press hard this year.

“Power is not handed over. To get your place at the table, you have to fight for it,” Wilkes said.

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This was last year (May 1, 2006) in downtown Los Angeles

 

 

Demonstrators
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.

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From ImmigrationCounters.com

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

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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.

 

Local marchers join tens of thousands nationwide

By Times Staff Writers
2:08 PM PDT, May 1, 2007

 

Tens of thousands of advocates for immigrant rights took to the streets in Los Angeles and the rest of the nation today, hoping that passion would offset the smaller turnout from last year’s demonstrations.

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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