DETROIT: 50,000 say, ‘We are not criminals’

Over 50,000 Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran and El Salvadoran and other immigrant families, carrying their homeland flags, jammed in front of the Federal Building, March 27, chanting, “We are not criminals.”

Calling the march a pilgrimage, Father Russ Koher of Holy Trinity Catholic Church said it was outrageous that proposed legislation would make him a felon for helping someone who does not have immigration documents.

“We need help,” said Ever Valasquez, 35, who delivers furniture. “The reason we stay in this country is because our countries are so poor.”
Esperanza Ramos, 68, stood with her daughter, Esther Angeles, who works the midnight shift. Both are citizens, born in the U.S. Angeles should have been sleeping, but she chose to protest because, she said, “immigrants have the right to come and work here and not be treated like prisoners or killed on their way here.”

A representative from the area’s large Arab American community was among those addressing the crowd.

DENVER: 50,000 march on State Capitol

“It’s just incredible,” said Polly Boca, a former state legislator who is executive director of Latin American Research and Service Agency. “You can see that a day without these people working would be devastating for Colorado’s economy.” As she marched with 50,000 others, March 25, Boca said farm, construction and hotel workers and their families had driven from Pueblo and Fort Collins to join the march.

PHOENIX: Largest demo ever targets Sen. Kyl

Traffic in midtown Phoenix came to a halt on March 24 as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched on the office of Arizona’s right-wing Sen. Jon Kyl. The Arizona Republic called it the “city’s biggest demonstration ever.”

Protester Elizabeth Cabezas emigrated from Ecuador three years ago. She told the World she appreciates the American people and the chance to live and work in this country, which enables her to send money home to family members for education. They won’t have to immigrate, she said.

At Kyl’s office five protesters delivered a letter to the senator’s staff. Probably awed by the size of the crowd, and Kyl’s vulnerability in this year’s election, the office staff accepted the letter, something they have not done in previous protests.

Kyl is pushing for the construction of double and/or triple walls in Nogales, Douglas, Naco and Lukeville, which will lead migrants and smugglers to more desperate and deadly means to enter the U.S., cause greater environmental damage, and cost the taxpayers more than $700 million for a band-aid strategy that fails to address root causes of migration.

– Joe Bernick (pwwinaz@webtv.net)

MILWAUKEE: 30,000 flex political muscle

Businesses closed and attendance at schools was light, March 23, as 30,000 immigrant workers, families and supporters formed a human wave a mile long through downtown streets. They marched against the punitive bill proposed by Wisconsin’s own Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and state measures denying immigrants access to driver’s licenses and even school lunches.

Shelia Cochran of the Milwaukee County Labor Council called Sensenbrenner’s bill “wrong-spirited, wrongheaded and just plain wrong.”

School Board member Jennifer Morales called on the entire educational community to “oppose any law that makes criminals of children.” She gave the green light to school workers to break the law and continue to provide lunches and other services to children.

“You let us fight and die for the country, but we’re still not called American,” read one of the hundreds of banners in the march.
In nearby Waukesha, Sensenbrenner held a town meeting which drew 50 while 200 rallied outside protesting “everything he stands for beginning with his attempt to rob immigrants of their democratic rights,” said Barney Gonzales.

CHARLOTTE, N.C.: Mayor addresses rally of 7,000

Norma Ramirez drove her family three hours from their home in Batesville, S.C., to join 7,000 marchers here, to defend her rights and dignity. “Our voices must be heard,” she said. “People need to see that we are united against these laws that say we’re criminals!”

Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess addressed the rally, saying the city must welcome people from all over the world to compete in the global economy. She called for justice for those who “cook our food, build our homes and care for our children.”

Another 700 Latino families marched behind the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of the Americas, from Holy Cross Catholic Church to the municipal building in Kernersville, N.C.

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com).

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