Protesters marched in Boston. Photo by Cesar Toscano.
Beyond Borders, Dispatches, United States

Thousands Rally in Support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform; Against Arizona Law

May 3, 2010 By Alison Bowen
Protesters marched in Boston. Photo by Cesar Toscano.

Protesters marched in Boston. Photo by Cesar Toscano.

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.


AreYouhighOrWhat says:

It’s soooo cute to see you far left progressive types trying to convince yourselves you’re not a sad little fringe group! Truly adorable how you run around trying to spin issues and pointing fingers at anyone who opposes you while trying to convince yourself your still part of mainstream America. Meanwhile the real Democrats are tired of your reactionary elistist propaganda and the smug little Prius that drove it here (LOL) Thousands marched but millions stayed home, MILLIONS! About 306 million if I believe the census. You don’t have America’s support, and you never will **giggles** We don’t reward criminals for the bad behavior even if they have sad stories and riot in the streets!

As Sue Sylvester would say “sloppy freakshow babies! somewhere in the English countryside in a stately manor home Madonna is weeping…as dozens of celebrities, politicians, and d-list wannabes do permanent damage to their credibility with the American public”

Gay Urban Hipsters In Seattle Permanently Boycotting Anyone Aiding The Busload Of Harper Valley PTA Agitators Trying Oppress Arizona

P.S. California, you’re “Don’t boycott us” but “Let’s boycott them” just put you on my permanent boycott list next to Jane Fonda and Colorado. Coachella’s been a hot mess for years, allready tossed my California wines, and cancelled my yearly trip to SF Pride Parade. I know that the six queens I caravan with in the Pace Arrow won’t be missed that much, but I’m probably not the only person sick of your Harper Valley PTA b.s.

[…] rallied to support comprehensive immigration reform and to protest the new Arizona law. Alison Bowen and Paola Reyes […]

xavier says:

im legal immigrant. i am willing to carry my papers all day if i have to solve this issue. i am so happy AZ did this.

Sara says:

Yay! You are too cute with your fake democratic principles and your supposed moderate stance. It is great that you are willing to carry your papers wherever you go. Why don’t we throw our civil liberties out the window and waste police resources. You are so smart and thoughtful. And you are a real democrat and an immigrant? Oh my! I am so impressed that you all claim to represent these two groups of people. Keep preaching fascism, because that is what America is truly about. And by the way are you full blooded Native American? If not, then you came from immigrants who also had to struggle to create a life in this country. So congratulations for denying your past.

Jimbo says:

AreYouhighOrWhat, your diatribe is filled with so many fallacies, I think my head’s gonna explode! I am so sick and tired of the allegations that progressives are prius-driving, latte-drinking elitists, while conservatives like yourself are “real Americans” standing up for the common man.

It is not elitist, let alone reactionary, to support legal rights for undocumented immigrants in this country . Undocumented immigrants are among the most desperate, marginalized, and oppressed people in our country, particularly at this moment. To stand in solidarity with people who are standing up for themselves and against racists like yourself is to show compassion, dignity, and humanity, not elitism.

Secondly, I sincerely hope you were joking when you claimed that “we” don’t reward criminals for their bad behavior in this country. I daresay that the vast majority of Americans would respond to such a statement with roaring laughter. How about the banksters, rating agencies, and real estate firms who fueled the growth of an $8 trillion housing bubble, which inevitably crashed, bringing the economy down with it? We bailed them out of course, through a dizzying array of loans, tax credits, and subsidies. Or how about mercenary companies like Blackwater, which has committed war crimes and myriad other abuses around the world? Again, we just keep handing them more and more money and literally let them get away with murder. Or the executives of Chrysler and GM, which drove their once dominant companies into the ground? Golden parachutes, of course. I could go on, but I think I’ve made myself abundantly clear: the rich and powerful commit crimes on a daily basis, which dramatically impact millions of people, and never get punished for them. Undocumented immigrants, on the other hand, have committed the crime of working and trying to feed their families. And folks like you want them jailed and deported for it!

You, my friend, are the true reactionary.

Are You High or What?

Perhaps I should be asking you that question.

joe says:

your not in touch with the real world, you think you can cross the border of another nation and nothing will be done, you want to be part of the world but you break the laws of other nations. i look at how mexico treats the illegal immigrants coming from columbia, etc, and this is inhuman treatment in any form, yet you expect us to give you what ever you want especially when you broke the laws of america. Arizona’s law is on the federal books, word for word, yet everyone of you call it “arizona’s law”, its not, its the federal law. In todays society everyone reads in to much into a word, “it could lead to racism”, guess what, if you drive, “you could have an accident. If you break into a business, ” you could be arrested”. Well you took you chance, you broke our laws and you expect to be kissed for this? If you want to be part of this country, of this world, do it legally. You want to feed your family, fine, but do it legally, then no one will bother you, but do not expect to break the law and everything is forgotten. if you come here with your family, guess what, if you get deported, you took the chance and committed the crime, and the last time i checked, if you commit a crime in mexico, they do not send your family to jail with you or even care about your family. People who live in glass houses, should not play with stones.
Until mexico fixes their corrupt treatment of immigrants, than you should not be talking about america.

JOHN says:

WOW! Lot’s of nasty things being written, from talking about racism, to criminals, to elitists. shouldn’t this simply be about becoming a legal resident no matter where you are from. I think most other countries require it.

[…] similar rallies in March and May, Eng said the arrests were intended to be “an escalation in tactics” when previous protests […]

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