by: Laurie Johnson, April 10, 2006 12:04:00 am
Around 10,000 people marched out of Guadalupe Plaza in the East End, waving U.S. flags and chanting Si, Se Puede, or Yes, We Can. Throngs of people filled the streets as they walked downtown toward the intersection of Congress and Main. Many of them could not speak English and asked others, like Lorena Orduna, to help get their message out.
"(Man speaking Spanish) I guess equal opportunities, like everybody will be treated the same way. Well, they're trying to -- we're trying to work, that's why we got here and we're not doing nothing to nobody."
Most of the people in the crowd wore white t-shirts, many decorated with stars and stripes. A small number of non-Hispanics joined the rally to show support, including Sterling Mullins who says he uses an extreme example to illustrate deportation issues.
"The last time a government deported 11 million people, they ended up in the ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor, places like Majdanek. So that's why I'm here in support of these undocumented workers and of the 11 million to 20 million people who are here cleaning our yards and serving our dinners and helping our elderly out in hospitals and hospices."
This Houston rally is the latest in a list of many protests. The outcry began in March when Congress took up the issue of immigration. Some of the most sweeping immigration reforms in decades have been under consideration, but the legislation has been derailed after lawmakers reached an impasse over amendments to the bill. Congress is on a two-week break, but lawmakers say they will get back to work on the immigration issues. Meanwhile, immigrants like Rosa Cooper say Congress needs to hear what they have to say.
"People need to understand that we are not criminals, we are working. We are working people, we come and help to create, to build this -- this country. We are fighting every day in our wars, trying to improve this -- this -- the greatness of this country. And we are -- we have been treated like a second-class citizen so what we are trying to send the message is that we are working people, we are not terrorists and we demand the same treatment that anybody else."
The Houston rally was one of nearly 100 protests held around the country. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.