March 26, 2006

Si se Puede by the Hundreds of Thousands

Immigrants are facing the prospect of Congressional legislation that would build a fence along one-third of the US/Mexico boarder, criminalize undocumented immigrants and criminalize people who feed and house these immigrants by classifying them as human traffickers. Because the House legislation, HR 4437, has already been passed, immigrants' concern is palpable as the Senate considers the Sensenbrenner Bill.

This concern materialized in Los Angeles as 500,000- 1.5 million people took to the streets chanting "Si Se Puede" (Yes we can) on March 25, 2006 (Associated Press). Having some personal exeperience with peace protests, I know that's a huge number of people (a demonstration is considered very successful if 100,000 people participate).

According to the AP article, the "legislation ... would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of people they help, and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border."

The massive LA protest isn't an isolated demonstration. On Friday March 10, to the suprise of many, Chicago police estimated over 100,000 protesters in the streets of that city (Coverage Link). Street protests have occured elsewhere, including 5,000 to 7,000 on March 25, 2006 in Charlotte, and tens of thousands in Washington, DC on Monday March 7, 2006 (Wash Post Link). Denver, CO had a demonstration of about 50,000 and Phoenix, AZ had a demonstration of about 20,000, which was its largest protest in history.

These protests, often on week days, demonstrate a massive base of human power for which this issue ressonates. A more humane approach to immigration reform would be wise in the face of the likely resentment the proposed legislation could engender in this huge constituency.

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