Pro-immigration activists say a nationwide boycott and marches planned for May 1 will flood Americas's streets with millions of Latinos to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants and shake the ground under Congress as it tackles reform.
But while such a massive turnout could make for the largest protests since the civil rights era of the 1960s, not all Latinos, nor their leaders, were comfortable with such militancy -- fearing a backlash in Middle America.
"There will be 2 to 3 million people hitting the streets in Los Angeles alone. We're going to close down Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tucson, Phoenix, Fresno," said Jorge Rodriguez, a union official who helped organize earlier rallies credited with rattling Congress as it debates the issue.
Immigration has split Congress, the Republican Party and public opinion. Conservatives want the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants to be classified as felons and a fence built along the Mexican border.
Others, including President George W. Bush, want a guest worker program and a path to citizenship. Most agree some reform is needed to stem the flow of poor to the world's biggest economy.
"We want full amnesty, full legalization for anybody who is here (illegally)," Rodriguez said. "That is the message that is going to be played out across the country on May 1."
Organizers of the May Day marches, which have strong support from big labor and the Roman Catholic church, vow that America's major cities will grind to a halt and its economy will stagger as Latinos walk off their jobs and skip school.
Teachers' unions in major cities have said children should not be punished for walking out of class. A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District said school principals had been told that they should not try to keep students in class but instead should walk with the children to help keep order.
In Chicago, Catholic priests have helped organize protests, sending information to all 375 parishes in the archdiocese.
CRITICS CHARGE INTIMIDATION
Chicago activists predict that the demonstrations will draw 300,000 people -- compared to the 100,000 who turned out on March 10 to clog downtown streets. Minneapolis-based agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. said it will close seven meatpacking plants so workers can participate.
In New York, leaders of the May 1 Coalition said a growing number of businesses had pledged to close and allow their workers to attend a rally in Manhattan's Union Square.
But some Latinos have expressed ambivalence about the boycott and marches, saying they could stir up anti-immigrant sentiment amid an incendiary atmosphere surrounding the issue.
Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese, who has emerged as an outspoken champion of immigrant rights -- even calling on priests to defy laws aimed at those who would help illegals -- has lobbied against a walkout.
"Personally I believe we can make May 1st a 'win-win' day here in Southern California," Mahony said in a statement. "Go to work, go to school, and then join thousands of us at a major rally afterward."
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the son of a Mexican immigrant who has long fought for immigrant rights, has taken a low profile on the issue. A Villaraigosa spokeswoman said the mayor expects protesters to be "lawful and respectful" and wants children to stay in school.
Critics have accused pro-immigrant leaders of stirring up uninformed young Latinos by telling them that their parents were in imminent danger of being deported and accuse them of trying to bully Congress.
"It's intimidation," Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman volunteer border patrol group, said of the May 1 events. "It's intimidation when a million people march down main streets in our major cities under the Mexican flag."
"It angers the people you are trying to impress," he said. "This will backfire just like the Mexican flag parades backfired."
(Additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman in Los Angeles, Dan Trotta in New York and Michael Conlon in Chicag
The part that impresses me the most is
"We want full amnesty, full legalization for anybody who is here (illegally)," Rodriguez said.
They are demanding rights that don't exist to them. WHY? Have they lost all common sense???
Wait, I know why, cause they are all on PCP and are hallucinating thats why!We need to set an example and this is the perfect time to do it. Yes, sure, it could be political suicide for Bush. But realize, this is his second term and its almost over.
EDIT-As hard as it might be right now, lets try to keep this thread civilized and keep it open
LGOP: a small group of "pissed-off American paratroopers" who are well trained, armed to the teeth, and lack serious supervision. They collectively remember the commander's intent as, "March to the sound of guns, and kill anyone who isn't dressed like you ..."
but...they might have to charge more for lettuce if there are no illegals to pick it, GOOD! i will be glad to pay more, supply and demand, if the consumers will demand it, they will supply it. sorry to say, but picking apples and mowing grass is not the mainstay of american strength. but laws are.
it took 5 months and lots of money to get my wife into the country legally, heck this week i got to fork over $205 just to remove a "conditional residence" thing, or what is the result if i don't? DEPORTATION! even though she has her green card. i don't ever see these illegals getting harrassed as much as a law abiding immigrant.
of course, thats america, feel sorry for law breakers, "its not their fault" mentality. "they are just looking for a better life" heck, why not just invite in 3 billion other oppressed people then!!!!!! you thought traffic was bad now!!!!!
and as a side not........HOW'S THAT NAFTA DOING?!?!?!
current ride - 2003 explorer, 4x4, v8
ford trucks i have previously owned
1972 f250 1989 f250
1995 f350 2004 f250
I have two major issues with that article. The first has already been pointed out, basically asking for these people to be granted rights that have no legal reasoning for. But another major issue for me is the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is getting involved. Now, I was born and raised Catholic, working on numerous retreats and church projects. I even taught Sunday School for two years, but I am getting to the point where I am fed up with the RCC to the point where I am looking into converting. Why the hell does the RCC have to come in and voice an opinion in a political arena? This makes no sense to me whatsoever. In this country, we have a clause in the premier amendment to the Constitution that states that we must keep church and state seperate. While that statement is taken to extremes when the government is involved, we seem to have no problem with the church invading politics. I hardly think it is right to have government not be able to acknowledge that religion exists and give religion free reign to comment on politics. Sorry if this is a long rant, and maybe its too political for the thread. I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone and sincerely apologize if I did. But I will close with this: The concept of seperation of church and state and free speech is originally a John Locke idea. He is one of the most influential philosophers on our founding fathers. He once wrote that with three exceptions, people should have the freedom of expression. The three exceptions are felons, for they have proven that they have no morals; atheists, for they cannot be trusted to have morals b/c they have no sense of higher power; and Catholics, because they have allegiance to a foreign power (the Pope). Just some food for thought.
Ha, I read a similar article on NPR.org. I have no problem with a man or woman who wants to come here and work for a living, but if you're gonna come here, do it legally. The illegal immigrants demanding full legalization in the United States need to get on a bus and go back to where they came from...and if they want, come back here LEGALLY. Just my .02
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