Officially reported as 500,000 to one million strong, with others putting the total at two million plus, the 25 March demonstration in Los Angeles against the Sensenbrenner (HR4437) immigration reform bill was by any standard a tremendous protest.
The proposed bill will make being an undocumented immigrant a felon and criminalise anyone who offers non-emergency assistance to undocumented workers and their families.
It was in essentials a march for the “illegals” — people who live and work in the US without legal status (the majority from Mexico and central America) — to be given rights.
Globalisation has brought new influxes of people into the US. There are few choices for many south of the US border, apart from work in US-owned sweatshops. The only alternative is making the trip to the north and working for $50 per day. Sensenbrenner (HR 4437) and its companion bills under discussion in the Senate would end that option in a few weeks.
Under Sensenbrenner, border crossers would be deemed felons. But capitalism makes felons of millions. Forcing people to leave homes without electricity or indoor plumbing, with dirt floors, for the relative luxury of life as a janitor, plumber’s helper, or farmworker.
Whole families save to send their most likely breadwinner away to the United States. Dropped off on the other side of the border, the new arrival hooks up with a friend or relative and enters the largely underground economy. Then he or she will send a few dollars home to help their spouse and children, or maybe a younger brother, sister, or cousin, to cross. Under “immigration reform,” families would be destroyed. Breadwinners, mothers and fathers, would spend months in prison before deportation.
The marchers wore white shirts signifying peace and shouted “no free-for-alls against immigrants,” no white-instigated race war. “No guerra, no racismo, no deportación,” the marchers chanted.
On the previous day school students — around 25,000 — walked out of their classes in protest at the legislation..
According to reports, and in contrast to the main Saturday demonstration, police dealt harshly with students, and some school authorities implemented lockdowns (locking students in) to prevent them leaving high school campuses.
• Report compiled from Indymedia: http://la.indymedia.org