|April 10, 2006--Declaring that they will no longer hide
in the shadows and want to be part of society, hundreds of thousands of
immigrants rallied on the National Mall and in cities around the country.
In Washington, DC the crowd waved and wore American flags large and small,
as well as flags from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and other Latin American
countries; many carried signs that stated simply "We Are America."
More than three dozen groups comprising the National Capital Immigration
Coalition organized the rally. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Cardinal
Theodore E. McCarrick, the Archbishop of Washington, were among those spoke.
Speakers roundly criticized H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005 (also known as the Sensenbrenner bill) passed by the U.S. House on Dec. 16, 2005 by a margin of 239-182. Among its provisions, the House bill would institute criminal penalties for anyone "assists, encourages, directs, or induces a person to reside in or remain in the United States, or to attempt to reside in or remain in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such person is an alien who lacks lawful authority to reside in or remain in the United States."
The U.S. Senate left for Easter recess on April 7 having come close, but ultimately failing to reach a compromise on immigration reform. Democrats and Republicans then engaged in several rounds of finger pointing. The issue may well be taken up again before the November elections, for politicians have their eyes on the Latino vote. One chant from the rally made the point, "Today we march, tomorrow we vote."
Political considerations aside, there are many difficult practical questions facing Congress as it debates this issue, ranging from how to deal with the 11-12 million undocumented immigrants already in this country to border security issues, a possible guest worker program, and the effects of all these immigrants on the economy and society. (more)
|Santos Muñoz of Argentina hands out signs at the rally in DC.
|Demonstrators on the Mall with the National Archives in the background.
New American Opportunity Campaign...a coalition which includes the National Council of La Raza, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), UNITE HERE!, the United Food and Commercial Workers and several other groups.
|Copyright © 2006 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action