ELLIOT SPAGAT,Associated Press


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Demonstrators demanded an overhaul of U.S. immigration laws Wednesday in an annual nationwide ritual that carried a special sense of urgency as Congress considers sweeping legislation that would bring many of the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows.

May Day rallies were planned in dozens of cities from New York to Bozeman, Montana.

“The invisible become visible on May 1,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, which organized what was expected to be the nation’s largest rally.

The crowds were not expected to approach the massive demonstrations of 2006 and 2007, during the last serious attempt to introduce major changes to the U.S. immigration system. Despite the large turnouts, many advocates of less strict immigration laws felt they were outmaneuvered by opponents who flooded congressional offices with phone calls and faxes at the behest of conservative talk-radio hosts.

Immigration reform gained little traction in Congress during President Barack Obama’s first term, but the November election brought some opposition Republicans to the issue after they watched the growing number of Hispanic voters overwhelmingly side with Obama and Democrats.

A bill now being crafted in the Senate would strengthen border security, allow tens of thousands of new high- and low-skilled workers into the country, require all employers to check workers’ legal status and provide an eventual path to citizenship for immigrants now in the country illegally.

Many rallies featured speakers with a personal stake in the debate. Kristela Hernandez, 21, said she feared separating from her U.S.-born children if her work visa expires.

“I came here for better opportunities for me and now my children,” Hernandez told about 100 people outside the Statehouse in New Hampshire. “I’m here to work and to get an education.”

The May Day rallies, which coincide with Labor Day in many countries outside the U.S., often have big showings from labor leaders and elected officials.

Salas, whose group is known as CHIRLA, dates the rallies to a labor dispute with a restaurant in the Los Angeles Koreatown neighborhood that drew several hundred demonstrators in 2000. Crowds grew each year until the House of Representatives passed a tough bill against illegal immigration, sparking a wave of enormous, angry protests from coast to coast in 2006.

In Oregon on Wednesday Gov. John Kitzhaber was cheered by about 2,000 people on the Capitol steps as he signed a bill to allow people living in the western state without proof of legal status to obtain drivers licenses.

Gabriel Villalobos, a Spanish-language talk radio host in Phoenix, said many of his callers believe it is the wrong time for marches, fearful that that any unrest could sour public opinion on immigration reform. Those callers advocate instead for a low-key approach of calling members of Congress.

“The mood is much calmer,” said Villalobos, who thinks the marches are still an important show of political force.

12 Comments on this post.

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  • noz
    1 May 2013 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    these illegal aliens showing force to stick to the throats of citizens/legal residents, through these left winger politicians by coercions, to meet their sickening demands. illegal aliens bold moves to push their radical motives are not only nauseating to the law abiding people of america, now are vomiting.

  • Michael
    1 May 2013 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Any immigration reform that goes through Congress must address the underlying issue of contention among the different groups here, namely the economy. If people were to understand economics and reform our economy to be freer than it already is, the immigrants would not be the scapegoats of the politicians and lobbyists in Washington. Instead, we will welcome them and probably need more of them to come over to help us innovate and fill in much depleted skilled labor force. The fact that we are looking at immigration solely shows a lack of that economic understanding and it is sad. We must change this.

    • noz
      1 May 2013 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      the economy is the problem. jobs are hard to find, many college graduates not only graduating this 2013, but those who graduated on 2012, 2011 and so on backwards are jobless to this day. this lefty politicians nonsense talk to recruit foreigners with college degree should boggles the minds of level headed people. are these lefties drunk or on drugs not to know tons of young americans with college degrees are jobless, now living again with their parents, back on their former bedrooms. the 7.6% rate of unemployment is not the true number percentage, the reality is, those who were out of work for too long just gave up looking for jobs, not counted in unemployment data, now on the welfare lists. to boost the economy and the GDP, all healthy in mind and body citizens/legal residents must have jobs. private sector job creators are the main men to pull these jobless people back to work. the problems are obama’s bleak economic policies as anti business, hefty taxations of the rich capitalists, bringing their businesses outside of the USA, where business taxes are fair. many employers cannot afford to keep full time employees because of obamacare, an added blow to already weak economy. the economic uncertainty is boosting the already huge 17 trillion debt, which obama cannot pay, the sequester will not put a dent on the 17 trillion debt. so why in the world, these illegal aliens have become the priority instead of the economy. the illegal aliens compadres have been misleading the public of propagandas, that illegal aliens will improve the economy. how can anybody believe such scams, when there are many americans without jobs, so these illegal aliens will add themselves on the welfare lists. you all will say the INS law reform will deny welfare for the illegal aliens, so who will monitor these career, expert schemers, many are already skimming the system, remember these illegal aliens have been in the USA for over a quarter century. the government cannot even diligently check the terrorists. these illegal aliens compadres unrelenting dangerous indoctrinations of the gullible people, not doing their homework are pushing full force to economically assault america.

  • kikayPang0
    2 May 2013 at 5:29 am - Reply

    Make them all legal but i’m not willing to pay $25.00 /hr. for a caregiver.

    • Delia
      3 May 2013 at 5:14 am - Reply

      Kikay dont worry about paying $25 dollars an hour , it wont happen . Once all the the illegals get legalized it will be a dime a dozens . They will line up as a bidder , that will be fun to see .

  • av
    2 May 2013 at 10:47 am - Reply

    Just wait until the racist Delia responds to this article.

    • Delia
      2 May 2013 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      Make sure you have a valid proof on your accusation , You assume far too much . Stop pretending to know anything about people.

      • av
        3 May 2013 at 5:52 am - Reply

        No one has to pretend but you, what you said doesn’t change peoples minds about you and your racist comments.

        • Delia
          3 May 2013 at 12:22 pm - Reply

          So where is your proof of this behavior?

          My word is no less of value than your’s, at lest I can validate and support my statements.
          Where as you seem to be just disenchanted , disenfranchised blow hard. your attack is baseless , void of support and reeks of a person that can not differentiate the difference between facts and truths .

          • av
            7 May 2013 at 7:03 am -

            No proof is needed while you could have deleted your posts pertaining to racial slurs and insults.

          • Delia
            9 May 2013 at 9:39 am -

            I wonder if posters are allowed to delete post after it was posted ? BA please inform me if this dingbat accuser AV has relevant pont and proof . Also it will be nice to know the truth about his accusations.

  • noz
    3 May 2013 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    lets get to the bottom of the word racism. remembering my elders stories, the most racists are the filipinos from wealth to the skin color of their own kind. the wealthy to this day denigrate, looking down to the poor. rich or poor, filipinos for centuries have disparage, ridicule those belonging to dark skin, while undying liking, fondness for the white skin. my second generation american child, from childhood to early adulthood with limited interactions with filipinos, have observed the racist traits of many filipinos. i was even asked point blank why filipinos prefer the white race, deride blacks, hispanics, etc. so, I told the same story of my elders just as it was told me. i have come to my own sentiments, the so called racism among tons of filipinos are more inherently of culture origin, not racism, because the philippines is a homogenous society.

    in america, the use of the word racism has been overused, misused, when objective arguments/debates turn to personal attack, so the other side running out of evidence-based, verifiable talk back find simplistic, easier counter subjective reaction of name calling, the best word to use are racist, bigot, prejudice, etc. racism in america is well and active because the society itself are mixed with all cultures of the world. these mixed cultures are at wars with each other. many of these ethnic groups refusing to assimilate to american cultures, which can be too repulsive to other ethnic groups, as if america must convert to their ethnic culture, causing hates among other cultures with likely the same intent to convert america of their own culture. in short, the so called melting pot is false, a myth, nobody aka government is watching to see to it, whatever are really inside the pot, truly get melted. the truth is, the government have bend over, is the main offender, the facilitator of policies making these latter ethnics of the world coming to america legally or illegally refusing to assimilate to american culture. BTW, the word racism goes only one way, that only the whites are called racists to blacks, but blacks are not/cannot be called racists to whites, no matter what, such as words with the prejudices, hostilities, spewed by blacks to whites, its not considered racist.

    the many comments of Delia are based on what are happenings politically, socially in america. her comments are her own to express in writing, her disgusts of declining america, which i can relate and so as many of the silent majority. credible talk back is like agreeing to disagree without insolent tone. anybody talking about certain issue, somebody will challenge if s/he knows what s/he is talking about, which is just fine, if the talk back are fact-based and not a dirty talk back, because in this world full of BS artists infiltrators using PC globally throwing muddy words all over are deserving to be thrown back the muds, since what these BS artists are saying are as clear as mud, must not to spread out all over the threads.