Busloads of participants came from all over Washington State: from Walla Walla, Yakima, Spokane, Tacoma, Centralia, Pasco, and Bellingham. The crowd was largely working class.
Students from Eastern Washington State University in Cheney rode the bus for more than four hours to attend the rally here. A group of students from Whitman College in Walla Walla also attended. Students from the University of Washington in Seattle passed out leaflets announcing a May 3 student strike to protest budget cuts.
More than 2,000 people joined the rally in Las Vegas, including contingents from California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. There was significant union participation from the Culinary Workers/UNITE HERE, Laborers Union, Ironworkers, and the Service Employees International Union.
One hundred workers came to Las Vegas in vans organized by the United Farm Workers. Juan Carlos, 23, a pistachio worker from Delano, California, told the Militant that in his opinion these marches were needed to make real what we ask forthat they pay us what we deserve and give us immigration reform. They need to give us papers.
Many protesters carried signs calling for an end to raids and deportations. Michael Wooten, 26, a UPS worker who is African American, told the Militant he came out to support his friends. Why is this country treating immigrants like criminals? he asked.
U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid addressed the crowd. Reid, along with President Barack Obama, is backing an immigration reform proposal from Democratic senator Charles Schumer and Republican senator Lindsey Graham. (See April 5 Militant.)
According to the New York Times, Reid said that to gain legal status undocumented workers would face a penalty and a fine, people will have to work, stay out of trouble, pay taxes, learn English.
Its not so bad, is it? asked Reid.
Some immigrant rights groups are taking their distance from the Schumer-Graham reform. An article in the Spring 2010 newsletter of the National Immigrant Solidarity Network said that in some ways, their proposal is even worse than previously defeated anti-immigrant bills.
U.S. congressman Luis Gutiérrez, a prominent proponent of an immigration reform bill that is similar to the Schumer-Graham proposal, also spoke at the Las Vegas rally.
The April 10 actions were used to build support for upcoming actions May 1.
At the Seattle rally volunteers leafleted the crowd to publicize this years May 1 march and rally for immigrant rights there. Participants said that there would also be marches in Tacoma, Yakima, Pasco, Spokane, Bellingham, and Centralia.
Actions to demand legalization of immigrants are planned May 1 in Chicago; Dallas; Los Angeles; New York City; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C.
Militant readers can e-mail information on May 1 actions in their areas for inclusion in upcoming issues to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to (212) 244-4947.
Eric Simpson in Las Vegas and Betsy Farley in Chicago contributed to this article.
Legalize undocumented workers!
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