Mass Movements March on in America and France

The following cartoon and excerpt from a news story appeared in tAhe April 10, 2006, issue of GI Special. For the entire issue, go to:

[Bendib Cartoon]

Huge Crowd Marches In Dallas In Support Of Immigrants

[Thanks to PB, who sent this in.]

4.9.06 By LAURA GRIFFIN, The New York Times [Excerpt]

Hundreds of thousands of people, many waving American flags, marched through downtown Dallas today to protest tougher immigration restrictions proposed in Congress and to support legalizing undocumented workers.

The sea of people, who chanted “Si se puede” (yes, we can) and “U.S.A., all the way,” wound through downtown streets for at least a mile, surpassing all estimates of how many would show up.

“We never anticipated it getting this big,” said Lt. Rick Watson, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department. “The estimates were anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000, but all of a sudden they started coming, and they kept coming and kept coming.

“We estimate that we have 350,000 to 500,000 people down here today.”

They were young and old; some pushing strollers, some in wheelchairs or walking with canes. Many made their own placards that read “Fair legislation for all immigrants,” “If I am illegal so are my taxes,” “Latinos Unidos” and “Today we march. Tomorrow we vote.”

“It’s a good feeling that we are finally standing up for ourselves,” said Robert Martinez, who is now an American citizen but said he crossed the Rio Grande illegally 22 years ago. “For years we never say nothing, we just work hard, follow the rules and pay taxes. And they try to make these laws. It’s time people knew how we felt.”

The police said there were only a handful of counterprotesters at today’s march.

At the Dallas march today on a warm afternoon, the Trevino family wheeled a 10-foot by 8-foot oil painting that 22-year-old Alejandro Trevino had created depicting a mass of people trying to get into the United States, titled Estamos Unidos. Painted in black were the words “Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

“My grandparents came from Mexico, like all these people here,” Mr. Trevino said. “I would hate to be in their position — to be scared they’re going to send you back.”

His mother, Francisca Trevino, also emigrated from Mexico.

“I crossed the river and everything when I was 8 years old,” said the 58-year-old kindergarten teacher. “My father was a farm laborer. I’ve come a long way in this country. I want to show support for immigrants.”

Johnny Carillo, 35, wearing his military combat cap and an American flag draped over his shoulder, came to support the immigrant soldiers he fought alongside in Iraq.

“We’ve got soldiers in Iraq from Mexico, South America, Africa, Russia,” he said. “I’m marching for their families. I’m of Hispanic descent, but I’ve never even been to Mexico, but I think these people have a right to be here. But let’s do it the right way.”

Some immigrants from other countries and some African-Americans also marched in support.

“I’m from Iran but this is not just for them,” said Saeed Tavakkol, a 48-year-old with a moving company that employees both legal and illegal immigrants.

“I’m here for my employees,” he said. “I told them to come to. This is a cause for humanity. You can’t say ‘go back.’ They are here, part of the society. Their children are citizens. They are very valuable to us.”

An hour and a half after the parade started, people at the back of the line were still marching and people were still arriving by train to join the crowd.

There were 774 officers working the route of the march and the police reported that it was a peaceful, family crowd and that they had made only one arrest so far, for public intoxication.