Latinos Protest Immigration Bill

RAMELA ISAGHOLIAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles was covered with a sea of white T-shirts signifying peace and unity May 1, while American flags were held in the air, showing the desire of many people wanting to be a part of the American society.

“We want to embrace this country,” said a demonstrator with a loud and clear voice. “Open the doors for us and you will be proud.”

“I would not put myself into so many dangerous situations and would not take the risk of losing my life if I had a good and a reasonable way of living and surviving back in my own country,” said Lucia Alvarado, 38, who came to America from Mexico, crossing the San Diego border when she was 16.

Alvarado came to the United States in 1984 and was arrested while crossing the border. She spent three days in jail. She does not recall the name of the jail, but she describes her experience as “sad and hard as [one] could imagine.”

Alvarado explained that most people have never endured such hardships that most immigrants have had. “I’m sure they would’ve done the same thing (immigrating to the neighbor countries) if they didn’t have enough food or a reasonable living condition.”

The demonstration affected many businesses, as many immigrants refused to work or buy anything. Yesenia Servantes, 14, from Mexico said, “We want to show how important the immigrants are in this country’s economy.”

Education is another important issue brought up by many immigrants. Griselda Gomez is a GCC student who participated in the demonstration, considering education to be a huge issue for the Latino community.Gomez explained that most illegal immigrants don’t get any support or help from the government. They have to work full time for minimum wage and pay their living and school expenses.

“That’s why many students stop going to school,” recalled Gomez with a concerned look. “Working full time and going to school is frustrating, and this problem pushes the Latinos a huge step back.”

“As far as the scholarship program for the Latino students goes,” said Gomez, “there are so many students applying for it, that many of us don’t have a chance winning it.”

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, R-Orange County, said in a Fox 11 live telephone interview “Illegal immigrants are wonderful, good people but we have to consider that the American government sold out the jobs and opportunities for its own citizens.”

Rohrbacher did not blame the illegal immigrants believes culpibility rests with business owners who hire them for extremely low wages and have made the labor force very cheap. He explains, “If you make it hard for the illegal immigrants to find jobs-they would go back to their countries.”

President George W. Bush supports the Guest Worker bill, which allows workers from different countries to come to the United States for a few months, work, earn some money, then go back to their countries.

“The president obviously doesn’t think of Americans by passing the bill,” said Rohrbacher.

John Beard, one of the radio hosts on the “John and Ken Show” on KFI (640 AM) radio, was strongly against the illegal immigration and he debated live with the Fox 11 reporters who were present at the demonstration scene.

“Why don’t Mexicans demonstrate in their own countries against the Mexican government who have messed up the country’s economy?” said John Beard. “Why don’t they ask for a better life in their own country?”

Beard also said, “Our listeners called and said they had no problem with traffic today and that added up at least an hour and a half to their lives.”

According to Beard, many opportunities have been taken away from the American citizens such as jobs and education.

“Most of the business owners who have hired illegal workers are like slave owners by paying them extremely low salaries with no benefits, while there are many Americans unemployed,” said Beard.

According to Beard, “Mexican students fill up our school, speaking Spanish, and our children struggle learning important skills … and our jails are filled with illegal immigrants.”

Despite the many opposing groups who were against the demonstrators, the immigrants continued their demonstration asking for a chance from the American government to create a life they claim they will not have if they go back.

“America has been built of immigrants who came here during the centuries and they all came with the motivation of a better life and a bright future,” said a demonstrator in Los Angeles. “They were given a chance to practice and reach their goals and dreams and they did, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Why aren’t we given the same opportunity?”