A Day Without Immigrants

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Downtown Los Angeles experienced a huge march today to protest bill HR 4437 and support immigrant rights and immigration reforms. I had been waffling about attending since I really hate driving to downtown (bad traffic and parking), but realized that since both my mother and my wife are immigrants, I ought to come out and show some support. An IM from my friend Kyle telling me I won’t regret it also served to jolt me out of my complacency.

Marching

Besides, my wife works on the corner where the march starts so I could just park nearby, have lunch with her, and join in the march. So I hopped in my car, grabbed a white shirt for my wife (everyone was encouraged to wear white), and headed off to downtown. Traffic was actually better than I have ever seen it on the 10 East.

When I arrived, I was greeted with the sounds of helicopters hovering overhead and people cheering. I was then assaulted by the smell of street vendor cooking in the air which instantly made me hungry and ready to part with some money despite the boycott. I proceeded to walk right through the parade in order to get to Akumi’s office.

Once there, I ran up to the roof to take some photos.

View from the roof of Akumi's
building

There are a lot of
people

The photos from the roof do not even begin to give you a sense of how many people were there. Multiple city blocks were chock full of people chanting, singing, and dancing. The air was electric.

Can somebody tell me where the march
is?

Even the little ones were into it.

A proud
American

Though this one was tuckered out.

Sleepy
Protester

The crowd was primarily latino. I had hoped to see a more diverse crowd show up in support, but I did manage to find the one other white guy.

Me and the one other white
guy

We took a shortcut to the end point of the march where everyone was gathering, but didn’t feel like braving the crowds much longer.

Rally

I stepped aside for a moment to get a better view for a picture and when I looked back, I could not see my wife. Since everyone was wearing white, it was easy for me to lose track of her. What was I going to do? Ask everyone if they’ve seen a woman wearing a white shirt, blue jeans, with black hair? That described half the entire crowd. It was a beautiful day out there.

UPDATE: I forgot to place a link to my photoset on Flickr. This contains more pictures that I took.

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Comments

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20 responses

  1. Avatar for jayson knight
    jayson knight May 1st, 2006

    Wow man, great shots! That one from the roof is killer. We're having a similar rally later on this week. I doubt I will be in attendance though. Much like L.A. there is a very large immigrant population here in Charlotte (Latino and Vietnamese), so I'm sure the turnout will be huge.

  2. Avatar for Eber Irigoyen
    Eber Irigoyen May 1st, 2006

    here in Salt Lake we weren't that many, but we were noisy!
    you can find some pictures here
    http://spaces.msn.com/ebersys/

  3. Avatar for James
    James May 1st, 2006

    Seattle also held a similar demonstration. I was there!

  4. Avatar for Joe Brinkman
    Joe Brinkman May 1st, 2006

    Phil,
    Almost everyone in America is from an immigrant family. Some of us though, prefer immigrants to come by legal means and are offended when people here illegally think they are somehow entitled to the privileges and rights afforded legal immigrants and citizens.

  5. Avatar for Jon Rowett
    Jon Rowett May 1st, 2006

    hmph. those rights and privileges are conferred by a nation-state which owes its very existence to a colossal and brutal landgrab by the europeans. those who would now raise the drawbridge are arguing from a morally dubious position IMHO.
    http://noii.org.uk/

  6. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked May 1st, 2006

    In one form or another, everybody in America is an immigrant. Just depends how far back the family tree we want to go.
    I find it ironic that Manifest Destiny isn't viewed in America as a massive immigration movement into Mexican lands that it was. It obviously sets the precedent that if you live here long enough, you may deserve some rights. If not, we should pull out of Texas and California.
    That said, I do believe immigrants should come here by legal means. But wishful thinking doesn't address the 20 Million who are already here.
    Our immigration laws are woefully inadequate and out of touch with reality. The current visa system favors the relatively rich and wealthy into white collar jobs. They need to be reformed to reflect the realities of today.
    But these are just my opininons and I respect that many will disagree with me vehemently on the issue of immigration.
    But there's a separate issue that the march also focuses on. Bill HR 4437. Regardless of where you stand on immigration, I think HR 4437 is not the answer. It's a waterfall mentality to a problem that's best solved by an iterative approach.

  7. Avatar for Ben Jones
    Ben Jones May 1st, 2006

    Things may be different with Mexican immigration in South Carolina. Once in North Augusta, they see apathetic employers, police and as long as they aren't breaking any more laws, no one bothers them. As a result more come. In small towns that were dieing from population shift to the cities are seeing a slight influx of migrants. Besides lowering wages and jobs in the construction and landscaping areas, the economic impact is positive. Culturally, it's a breath of fresh air.
    I drive by the capital building in Columbia daily and saw no protests yesterday. A couple weeks before I saw an 8 person anti-illegal immigrant protest in front of the capital. However, I didn't understand their use of the confederate flag. We all know the confederate flag symbolizes the continued Southern resistance to the 100+ years of occupation by Yankee agressors. Yesterday in North Augusta there were a couple restaruants closed and a couple open.

  8. Avatar for Scott
    Scott May 1st, 2006

    Y'know, the Native American Indians let illegal immigrants into their country. Welcomed them in fact. And look what happened to them.
    I'm just saying, y'know, don't take any blankets from an illegal alien I guess. ;)
    I'm one tiny bit Native American, so all y'all get off muh land!

  9. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked May 1st, 2006

    Shoulda never traded Manhattan for a bunch of beads and necklaces. ;)
    Even the Native Americans are immigrants if you think about it. Immigrated over the land bridge from Asia. Of course, the elk, bears, and bison here didn't have anti-immigration laws back then.

  10. Avatar for Ben Jones
    Ben Jones May 2nd, 2006

    Using past immigration and comparing it to the current immigration issue is a "faulty" or "weak" analogy... not that I'm an expert at doublespeak.

  11. Avatar for Koba
    Koba May 2nd, 2006

    The over-arching issue here is human rights for all people. Past immigration is being compared to current immigration to point out the hypocrisy of those who would criminalize immigrants. It is not being used to justify it. There is no need to justify demands for human rights, to which all people are entitled. If we must, we only need look to the prinicipal of universality.

  12. Avatar for Joe Brinkman
    Joe Brinkman May 2nd, 2006

    Basic rights as human beings are not being denied. But I should not be forced to pay extra taxes to cover the cost of housing, feeding, medical care and prison space for the thousands of illegal immigrants who are pushing our government services to the breaking point. It is very naive to believe that everyone who comes here illegally is a hard-working individual seeking work. Talk to any Gang-Task force in the major metropolitan areas, talk to the emergency room staff at hospitals throughout the southwest, look at the statistics for the prison population and you will see that this is about more than just a bunch of people seeking a job.
    If you think our laws our unreasonable, compare them to the laws of Mexico and you will see how one-sided this discussion is. Why is it ok for Mexico to deny Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans the very same rights that they are now in our country demanding from us? Why do we round up chinese immigrants by the boatload and send them back but refuse to do the same for someone who walks across the Rio-Grande? Why is it we demand that all citizens are paid a minimum wage but look the other way when employers exploit illegal immigrants and pay them less than what they should be making? We decry the working conditions in sweat shops throughout the world and tollerate it here in our own country, as long as it is only happening to illegal immigrants. We say you are not qualified to be Attorney General if you have hired an illegal immigrant, but once you become Attorney General you are free to ignore those very same laws by not enforcing them.
    I agree with Phil that there is no easy solution, and we can all respectfully present our viewpoints, but I do know that rewarding people who circumvent our immigration laws only guarantees more of the same. One of the fundamental defintions of any nation-state is the ability to control its own borders. I fear we are very close to not being able to meet that basic definition.

  13. Avatar for Haacked
    Haacked May 2nd, 2006

    I see your point Joe, but the movement isn't advocating granting a path to citizenship to ALL illegal immigrants. As you said, not every immigrant is hard-working.
    But many are. I'd say a majority are, but I don't have a stat I can show you right now. Neither do you to show me that many aren't.
    It is well documented that a large number of illegal immigrants do come here to work and DO PAY TAXES. In that case, they aren't a drain but an actual boon to the economy.
    I don't think it's such a black and white issue. There isn't any solution that completely solves every issue.

  14. Avatar for Koba
    Koba May 3rd, 2006

    Joe,
    Your statement that it is illegal immigrants that are "pushing our government services to the breaking point," is troubling. Could it not also be that we are not properly funding these services? Systems like Social Security and hospitals, at their best, are designed to allow the better off to support those in need. A logical extension of your argument is that the sick and poor are pushing our health care system to the breaking point, and so we might do well to get rid of them.
    This IS a question of human rights. Do we provide these services to all people, or just American citizens? If you accept illegal immigrants' presence in America as a reality, how do you deal with this reality?
    In addition, the comment that we should "look at the statistics for the prison population" to "see that this is about more than just a bunch of people seeking a job," is absolutely horrible. Labeling an entire community of people based on the ones that end up in jail is walking a fine line, nevermind suggesting that they are all criminal. In the US, justice is rationed by wealth, making it difficult to convince me that a population's elevated numbers in prison have anything to do with their moral character as a community. Do you judge all young, black males you meet based on their elevated numbers in America's prisons?
    I suppose your statement on the necessity of a nation-state to control its borders refers to some perceived threat to our nation's sovereignty by these immigrants. Immigrants crossing our borders to feed their families does not threaten our national sovereignty. However, creating a permanent underclass of illegal workers; with lower wages and benefits, lesser working conditions, and no ability to organize; does pose a significant threat to most of the working class of this country. Standards of living are lowered here, which is the real threat.
    It's interesting that much of this economic situation, of lowered wages in the US and Latin America, was among the predicted consequences of NAFTA. Are we really worried about people coming to America to work and live? (Perhaps we ought to look into why they are coming.) Are they really that different from other waves of immigrants before them?

  15. Avatar for Walt
    Walt May 4th, 2006

    Wow Phil,
    This post stirred quite a bit of debate. Its good to see your Oxy roots showing up in the comment "I respect that many will disagree with me vehemently on the issue of immigration". Is there a difference between respecting (e.g. understanding) that people disagree, and respecting their opinions?
    Here is Seattle, I high-tailed it out of downtown before the protest started to avoid hour long delays at the bus stop.
    Walter

  16. Avatar for Koba
    Koba May 4th, 2006

    Sorry the illegal immigrants almost ruined your day.

  17. Avatar for Randolph
    Randolph May 12th, 2006

    I'm actually offended by this "Day without Immigrants". I immigrated to this country legally. I followed the rules and after 15 years I was able to successfully receive my citizenship. The important thing is that I did all this legally. I didn't run the river and sneak into the country. Calling this day "A Day without Immigrants" offends me because I am one and I do not support illegal immigrants in this country. Not all immigrants, especially legal ones, left work. And not all immigrants, especially legal ones, support this rally. They should have called this day "A Day without Illegal Immigrants" instead. I support the tightening of our borders, and the immediate crackdown and deportation of all illegal immigrants in this country. Why should they get any special treatment when they broke the rules, while millions of other immigrants successfully enter the country legally?

  18. Avatar for Koba
    Koba May 13th, 2006

    Why should you get special treatment because you're wealthy, by comparative standards, and have free time enough to write nonsensical, intolerant crap in a blog? Think about why you were allowed to gain citizenship.

  19. Avatar for kenia arroyo
    kenia arroyo May 25th, 2006

    we are not allians. we are honest not crimminals ! we are important people. we work we go to school same as native america.live as alone and give as a change . we care about this coutry . and persons that are not from this countryy and they are native americans they shoudent say a thing because they are immigrants too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Avatar for you've been HAACKED
    you've been HAACKED January 4th, 2008

    So Long L.A. And Thanks For All The Fish