Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Thousands of immigrant rights advocates gathered at a park on the near West Side of Chicago and listened to speakers, then began a march through downtown to the city's lakefront which is continuing as I write this.

Participants carried signs with slogans such as "We are America," "Stop family separations now" and "Dear Bush: Stop all raids deporting families."

The rally was being promoted by a core group of Latino activists, such as Centro Sin Fronteras and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center.

Organizers say today's rally comes at a critical time. House leaders have scheduled hearings around the country to stress the need for tougher enforcement of immigration laws.

“We need to say stop deportations until you finish debating and come up with some sort of legalization reform we can all live with,” Emma Lozano, director of Centro Sin Fronteras told the Daily Herald. “We’re saying, ‘Wake up.’”

"This is an important event," Becky Belcore, executive director of the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center told the Chicago Tribune. "Everyone is doing whatever we can to support just and humane comprehensive immigration reform."

The 2006 National Survey of Latinos just released by the PEW Hispanic Center which is first major public opinion poll of the Hispanic population to be conducted since this spring’s pro-immigration marches and congressional debate helps provide answers to some of the most pressing questions that arose from those events. Among them:

• Do native-born Latinos feel threatened by a policy debate that has
generated widespread denunciation of illegal immigration and resulted in
numerous proposals to reduce or contain it? The survey indicates that this
does seem to have happened. Among native-born and foreign-born
Latinos, more than half (54%) say the immigration policy debate has made
discrimination against Latinos more of a problem.

• Could the immigrant marches be the start of a new Latino social
movement? Most Latinos think so. Native- and foreign-born Latinos in
almost equal measures (62% and 64%, respectively) view the marches as
indeed the beginning of a new Hispanic social movement that will go on
for a long time rather than a one-time phenomenon. The share of Latinos
who see Hispanics from different countries working together to achieve
common political goals is also on the rise, and a clear majority of foreignborn
Latinos (66%) and a substantial minority of the native born (44%)
said they would participate in a future march.

• Will the marches and the debate have an impact on how Latinos will
vote? Unclear. Across the board, including among registered voters, about
three-quarters of Latinos predict that more Hispanics will vote in the
November election as a result of the immigration debate, but the survey
did not produce clear signs of a shift in Latino loyalties toward the two
major political parties compared with surveys conducted in 2004 and

• Is the immigration debate relevant mainly to Mexicans, or are all Latinos
equally affected by it and in general agreement on its consequences? Yes
and no. A majority of Latinos, regardless of country of origin, believe that
the immigration debate will drive more Hispanics to vote and that the
marches signal the rise of a new and lasting movement. But Puerto Ricans
and Cubans, who are not directly affected by the immigration debate and
who are political opposites in many ways, have more restrictive views
about immigration policy and are not convinced the marches created a
favorable impression of undocumented migrants.

The Pew Hispanic Center is a highly regarded, nonpartisan research organization founded in 2001 and is associated with the the nationally recongized Pew research center which is itself a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based public charity.

The following is from Chicago's ABC7 News.

Immigrant rights rally underway
Thousands gather for march

July 19, 2006 - Thousands of people are marching for immigration rights in downtown Chicago. The group, which started marching at Union Park, will end with a rally in Grant Park around 2 p.m.

Participants want Congress to take a more lenient approach to immigration laws.
"The issues at stake are too important. This is a crisis. We told people to wake up and call for a moratorium like they did then. It is only logical," said Emma Lozano, Center Without Borders.

"We are here to work and have a better life. We are not here to do nothing bad to the country," said Audelia Soto, participant.

The timing of the march coincides with the Department of Homeland Security's double checking of employers' records for people who may be working with fake social security numbers. The Homeland Security plan, according to the organizers of Wednesday's march, makes no sense in light of the current debate going on in Congress.

"Why would you start doing raids and deportations and sanctions when they are on the verge of passing some form of legalization, and when the Senate has just passed legislation that would legalize the very people they're going to deport," said Lozano.

"There are, right now, people who are waiting for deportation, and their families -- the kids would be without fathers and mothers. They don't know what will happen to their kids," said Luz Hernandez.

The rally in Grant Park is expected around 2 p.m.

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