Thousands Rally in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform; Against Arizona Law
May 3, 2010 By Alison Bowen
NEW YORK — A recent controversial law passed in Arizona drove thousands of people to protest in cities around the nation this weekend, adding fervor to planned May 1 rallies aimed toward asking President Barack Obama for comprehensive immigration reform.
Crowds formed in cities from Boston to Houston to Los Angeles, with signs criticizing the Arizona law and protesting raids and deportations.
Many have spoken out against the Arizona law, from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, warning about potential racial profiling, to the Major League Baseball Players Association, which expressed concern that the new law could affect its international players.
The Pew Hispanic Center issued a report last week in response to the new law, reporting that 57 percent of Latinos worried that they, or someone they knew, might be deported.
Many at the rallies were undocumented immigrants themselves and worried about the consequences of not having papers, like the threat of deportation or the inability attain financial aid for college.
In Boston, a protest began on the Boston Commons, with about 300 participants marching through downtown Boston to the North End. Protesters chanted “Don’t give in to racist fear, immigrants are welcome here,” and waved United States, Uruguayan and Guatemalan flags.
Boston protester Tatiana, an undocumented high school student and Student Immigrant Movement (SIM) member, said she was participating in hopes for a better future.
“We are not evil people or criminals,” she said. “We are here to help the country and to be part of the country.”
Harvard student Keith Martinez said he wanted more unity in the world. “Wake up, it’s time for us to realize that we are all one,” he said.
The Los Angeles Police Department estimated as many as 50,000 people marched, including 20 who were arrested – one was Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez – for blocking the sidewalk, according to CNN.
Dozens of people were also arrested in Washington, in what ABC News called a “choreographed display of civil disobedience.”
In New York, protesters at Union Square included Sergio Dominguez, who came with his wife to pressure President Barack Obama to create a path to legalization.
“He promised us that we were going have a reform, and we didn’t see nothing yet,” he said.
Many speakers called for immigration reform and more jobs for everyone, as the rally was also a nod to International Workers Day.
—Paola Reyes contributed reporting from Boston.
About Alison Bowen
Alison is a Missouri native and New York City freelance writer who has wanted to cover Latin America since studying Spanish in Central America. After moving to Brooklyn, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Daily News, the Manhattan Times and Women’s eNews. She earned a master’s degree in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University. Her thesis focused on immigration policies after September 11, including counterterrorism measures, and their effects on the daily lives of immigrants in New York City.