Hundreds of Thousands March for Immigrant Rights
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports.
JENNIFER LUDDEN: LULAC President, Hector Flores, took on the issue before the crowd in Dallas.
HECTOR FLORES: There were 19 people that attacked our country. None of them had the name of Rodriguez, Martinez, Flores, Gonzalez.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHEERING)
FLORES: But, most certainly, many of the dead that are coming back from Iraq do have the names of Gonzalez, Martinez, Flores.
LUDDEN: In San Diego, Gabby Romero(ph) marched with her husband, Rigoberto(ph), a U.S. citizen and an Iraqi war vet.
GABBY ROMERO: He served the country, and I'm a criminal.
LUDDEN: Romero's parents brought her here illegally when she was a child. She fears a crackdown could force her back to a country she doesn't know.
ROMERO: So, they should really think about what they're doing because everybody here loves America. We're not here to terrorize it. We're--we love America. We are part of America.
LUDDEN: On the other side of the country, at a Miami protest, Orlando Fernandez(ph) came out, even though, as a Cuban, he has legal status. Fernandez says everyone should be concerned with how illegal workers are treated in this country.
ORLANDO FERNANDEZ: I've seen it. They work for minimum salary, even lower than minimum salary, and the conditions are very harsh. And they don't have any rights, and they're abused. And, I mean, at this point, it will be very unfair that they are kicked out.
LUDDEN: The wave of support has been a jolt of energy for the Latino community. Ilana Dubester is organizing a rally today in the small town of Siler City, N.C. She says Mexicans and others have moved in there in large numbers in the past 15 years, recruited by poultry plants, textile mills and furniture manufacturers. They're about a third of the population, but Dubester says they have no role in local government and have never before asserted themselves this way.
ELENA DUBESTER: It has given confidence. And, you know, folks here--our community here is--basically are telling us it's about time you all put something together like this. You know, we've been waiting for it.
LUDDEN: In Washington, D.C., organizer Jaime Contreras even wants African-Americans to join in, and he's tapped Hollywood for support.
JAIME CONTRERAS: We actually have Danny Glover recording a PSA for us, if you can believe that, who's going to be airing in the English- speaking radio stations and media in the area. And we have been talking to the youth in the schools, both Latino and African-American, to come around this issue and unite around this issue because, obviously, we know that there is a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of misperceptions, if you will.
LUDDEN: Jennifer Ludden, NPR News, Washington.
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