Local groups rally over immigration rights

May 1, 2010 9:14:54 PM PDT
Thousands of people across the country Saturday spoke out about a new immigration law in Arizona. It requires police to ask suspected illegal immigrants for documentation. Hundreds rallied here in Houston. Supporters say that law was passed out of necessity, while those speaking out against it say it is downright dangerous.

Activists outraged over Arizona's new controversial immigration law marched through southwest Houston in support of immigrants rights.

"It's going to impact U.S. citizens who look foreign or who sound foreign, legal residents and the undocumented," said Maria Jiminez of the Coalition in Defense of the Community.

Across the street stood a group of protesters with a very different point of view. As opponents of immigrants' rights, they blasted federal lawmakers for failing to secure the border and for making what they are calling a mockery of the U.S. Constitution. They believe if people from other countries want to live here, they should do it the right way.

"I'm very opposed to the amnesty bill to give the illegal aliens the right to live here. It's wrong. They broke the law. They should not be here," said Ruth Wall, an immigrant rights opponent.

Advocates for immigrants' rights say sending undocumented workers away would tear entire families apart. They are demanding federal immigration reform and a path to citizenship for those who've earned a living in this country illegally for years.

"We are not criminals. We are here to work, to get a better life and to give our families a better life. I don't know what is wrong with this government. They want to send us back and I don't think that's fair," said Erica Avellaneda.

From education to health care, opponents believe illegal workers and their children are stretching this country to its breaking point and that worries them.

"I'm tired of paying for the schools. I'm tired of paying for the medical bills of people that don't even belong here," said Dennis Brown.

President Barack Obama has pushed back the timetable on immigration reform several times. He is expected to take up issues related to it sometime later this year, including boosting personnel and resources at the border.

May Day marches in support of workers' rights across the country turned into immigration rallies. In Dallas, more than 20,000 people marched through downtown, upset over Arizona's new law. Thousands were at other rallies in Los Angeles and New York. People who are against the law claim it will lead to racial profiling.


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