- Title: USA: Demonstrators march for immigration reform in the United States
- Date: 2nd May 2007
- Summary: CLOSE-UP OF SIGNS, PAN
- Embargoed: 17th May 2007 13:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA2NQ5AB8TFLM8VCI7ZS8PQ1927
- Story Text: Thousands of people took to the streets in cities throughout the United States to demand legal residency and other rights for immigrants. Demonstrators carrying placards and bullhorns rallied across the United States on Tuesday (May 1) to demand rights for illegal immigrants, although the turnout was down from mass rallies a year ago, organizers said.
Demonstrations, consumer boycotts and school walkouts got under way by groups calling for an end to a recent crackdown on undocumented immigrants and better treatment for the estimated 11 million people living and working in the shadows of American society.
"We hope to accomplish all the rights that we deserve. Not only as immigrants, but also as people and human beings, said Miriam Canal as she marched in a rally in New York City.
A year ago, hundreds of thousands of mostly Hispanic immigrants walked off the job and packed streets of major cities from New England to California in a massive show of their economic clout.
The latest rallies come as U.S. lawmakers are struggling to devise a workable compromise on immigration, seeking a formula to provide tougher border control and workplace enforcement while addressing the status of illegal immigrants.
"We hope that the elected representatives see that we need help with immigration reform for the sake of all the undocumented workers in this country," said Abel Corona in Los Angeles.
Federal legislation that would have created a guest-worker program and offered many illegal immigrants a shot at citizenship failed last year in the face of stiff opposition from Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"It's not an issue that will go away. We're here, We're here to stay. We're not going anywhere and we do need a solution, something that will give us permanent residency," said Norberto Martinez, the event organizer in Washington D.C. "If it doesn't happen with the Bush administration now it has to happen in the next administration."
This year, protest organizers expect participation to be lower than last, citing waning support for the rallies in the Spanish-language media and stepped-up immigration raids that have raised fear in many immigrant communities nationwide.
In Los Angeles, about 2,500 demonstrators carrying placards with slogans such as "Stop the Raids & Deportations" and "Legalization Now" gathered in the city's fashion district.
Los Angeles officials expected 20,000 people to rally in two marches downtown, well below the number who took part in a May 1 protest last year that brought traffic to a standstill.
In Chicago, where protesters were still gathering at late morning, organizers had originally estimated there would be 5,000 marchers -- a far cry from the 400,000 to 500,000 who turned out a year ago.
While the rallies highlight immigrants' demands, U.S. officials and lawmakers remained divided on chances for immigration legislation in coming weeks.
Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, an opponent of an "amnesty" granting any concessions or legal status to illegal immigrants, was dismissive, saying a 1986 effort failed.
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