Whats taking so long?

Protestors demand action on citizenship

DALLAS — As morning sunshine began to push back the surly night on a cold Jan. 28, two big buses rolled into the Grauwyler Park Recreation Center here. Young activists from as far away as Las Cruces and Albuquerque, N.M., who had traveled all night, greeted their Dallas comrades. Virtually all of them were part of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

Television cameras and newspersons gathered. Texas State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, a major spokesperson for Latino and immigrant rights, gave interview after interview.

He then stepped off through the wet grass beside Harry Hines Boulevard. Behind him came 150 protesters joyfully chanting in English and Spanish, “What do we want?” “Citizenship.” “When do we want it?” “Now!”

The long procession snaked through the rough, sidewalk-less streets for well over a mile. The last few blocks were along the service road of Interstate 35, the NAFTA highway. Around 9:30 a.m., they arrived at their first destination. The big stone marker read, “Department of Homeland Security.” Inside were the offices of the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS).

Alonzo told the crowd, in English and Spanish, that the Immigration Service raised the price of becoming an American citizen by $275 last summer. USCIS affirmed, at that time, that the extra money would make it possible for them to expedite the processing of the mountains of citizenship applications they were receiving. But the time lag did not shorten — it lengthened. ACORN speakers said the waiting time had doubled from six or seven months to more than a year. It was time to protest.

Bureaucrats rushed out of the Immigration Service offices to tell the protesters to stay off the grass! The enthusiastic group lined up along the outer edge of the property. They waved to the cars and trucks who were serenading support with automobile horns.

Dallas immigrant rights leader Margarita Alvarez, one of the best orators in any language, blasted the bureaucracy. Speakers told personal stories about how much money they had spent and how long they had waited for fair treatment.

Reporters covered it all, then followed the two big buses as they brought the protest to the Dallas offices of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Hutchinson and her Texas co-thinker, Sen. John Cornyn, had both stonewalled all efforts for a federal solution to immigration questions during the previous year.

More bureaucrats rushed to the lobby to tell the protesters that they could not come to the senator’s 11th floor offices, but they were late. About 75 demonstrators had packed themselves into the hallway just outside the senator’s door. While the security guard threatened them with arrests, they delivered hundreds of letters to Hutchinson’s office. Then they left as swiftly and quietly as they had come.

About a dozen police gathered to watch the protesters in the parking lot as they waited for their buses to return. The participants exchanged hugs, smiles, kisses and promises to carry on their fight for justice, then mounted the buses for the long trip home.

flittle7 @ yahoo.com