Energized by the possibility of immigration reform, about 2,000 demonstrators marched through downtown Los Angeles yesterday at took part in May Day rallies aimed at pressing Congress to enact legislation ending deportations.
A massive rally organized by about 20 community groups began around midday at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, then ended up three hours later at La Placita Olvera on North Main Street. A second march took place along largely the same route a few hours later.
“The ability of immigrants to come out of the shadows and find better jobs is something that’s never been more important,” according to Jacob Hay, spokesman for SEIU United Service Workers West, which helped organize one of the marches. “It’s being able to achieve their dreams in the country they’ve moved to.”
The marches were headed by community organizations, faith-based leaders and labor unions showing support for immigration legislation.
Participants said proposed immigration legislation on the table in Washington, D.C., gave this year’s May Day events special significance.
“We want to see immigration reform so that our students and our parents in our community can can have greater access to the resources that they need,” Erin Glenn, Alliance for a Better Community, told ABC7.
Brandon Lines told the station during the march that young immigrants who were brought to the United States at a young age “are just as American as you and I.”
“If you grow up here from 2 years old, how does that make you any different from me, who grew up from zero years old?” he asked.
Ira Mehlman, national media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group pushing to scale back both legal and illegal immigration, said massive May Day demonstrations don’t resonate with most Americans.
“These marches make the participants feel good, but I think the message the American public gets is quite different,” Mehlman said. “They see all these people demanding to be rewarded for breaking the law. It illustrates that something is wrong with the way we enforce our laws.”
As usual, the annual May Day event made life difficult for people trying to get around the downtown area. But organizers said they believed their cause would not be hurt if a few commuters were inconvenienced.
“This is planned so far in advance that the police have had plenty of time to close the streets and prepare,” Hay said. “If someone experiences a moment of frustration, once they see these families who so desperately want to be citizens, I think they’ll be inspired.”