Latinos Demand Immigration Reform!

JwJ bannerTraditional "Cinco de Mayo" crowds swelled this year because of the burgeoning hope for immigration reform. The Grand Prairie and Oak Cliff parades focused mainly on Mexican culture, but they were really long parades. One U.S. Congressman, Marc Veasey, participated in the Oak Cliff parade. Several local officeholders and hopefuls were also there because May 11 is local election day. The big event was the march for immigration reform in downtown Dallas on May 5th. We began at the traditional launch, Catedral Guadalupe on Ross. We crossed town on Fields, then went up Young Street to City Hall, where a giant festival had been previously organized. There were booths selling all kinds of food and cultural objects.

For the last half of the march, State Representative Roberto Alonzo helped Ironworker Ramon and JwJ Coordinator Rosemarie carry our banner.

Not all the pro-immigration reform forces participated. At least one of the big names associated with this issue went so far as to denigrate the march and its main organizer, Attorney Domingo Garcia, rather than try to build the event. Jobs with Justice, as always, did not participate in partisan bickering. There was a march for immigration reform, we're for immigration reform, so we were there.

The crowd was between 3 and 5,000, which is a giant march by Dallas standards. People like to compare every march to the giant 350,000-to-500,000 "Mega March" of 2006, but that one had the full backing of City Government, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit Authority, and school officials. They were trying to keep high school students from spontaneous walkouts and demonstrations. This one was primarily a coalition built around the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Labor participation was hardly noticeable, as none of the marchers were actually formed into distinct contingents. However, individual union members were among the crowd. Deborah Beltran and MoveOn had their banner right behind ours. A number of MoveOn activists served as marshalls for the peoples' march.

The Dallas Morning News article caught some of the excitement of the action, but did not publish a crowd estimate.

It's going to take a lot more solidarity, and a lot more work, to get reasonable immigration reform. Let's keep on!

--Gene Lantz



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