Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Warning: WAY off topic today.

It's not that I'm in favor of illegal immigration, it's that I'm against the xenophobia that seems to sometimes grip otherwise sensible people.

I'm not sure of the exact numbers, but a significant percentage of the population of Los Angeles were born in another country and immigrated here - some legally, some not.

Yesterday was the big May Day (a worker's holiday in much of the rest of the world) immigration protest (immigrants protesting our proposed 'anti-immigrant' legislation, although I'm sure there were several anti-immigrant gatherings) in LA, and I wasn't going to miss all the fun, so I left the car at home and took my bicycle out (good thing, too. Traffic nightmare from hell on the streets).

As I was riding around, I was taking a sort of informal tally of how many businesses were closed (no one was supposed to shop or go to work today - since I'm currently unemployed, not working was no big deal. Not shopping was a bit harder, especially when I remembered I was supposed to wear a white T-shirt to the march but instead had worn a blue polo, but no, I didn't buy anything yesterday - I just lived with my unfortunate wardrobe misstep). In Hollywood not many businesses were closed, but as I got nearer to the intersection of Wilshire and La Brea (one of the rally points), the place was a ghost town. IHOP, closed. Marie Callender's, closed. My bank, alas, also closed. I swear I wasn't going to buy anything - I just wanted to make a deposit.

Wilshire Blvd, one of the busiest streets in the city, was completely deserted early in the afternoon.

Wilshire Blvd

Until the marchers came - waves and waves of them.

May Day March

May Day March

Chanting, waving flags, laughing, talking - I've been to a lot of protest marches and this was the calmest crowd I've ever seen. There weren't even any angry cops floating around scowling - just happy well-mannered folks walking along Wilshire.


Masonic Temple

Since the day's events have been discussed to death just about everywhere else, I'll spare you my version and just leave it at my having had a great time.

I do have to mention something that happened after the rallies ended, though.

After the march

About 7 pm, after everything was over, people headed back along the march route in the deepening twilight. Still orderly, still well-mannered, they walked east on Wilshire - the flags were put away, and everyone was quiet as they made their way to wherever they'd joined the march (some of the folks with small children parked along the route so that the kids wouldn't have to walk the whole way).

A woman, seeing a business opportunity, had set up a grill on the side of the road and was making tacos for the marchers (who still had quite a walk ahead of them).

She had at least 20 people lined up next to her grill - talking, nursing almost-empty water bottles, carrying sleeping children. Not all of them were Hispanic, either, but everyone was hungry, worn out and eager to fork over cash to someone who was in the right place at the right time.

To me, that's America.

After the march


Publius said...

But, isn’t it a bit ironic that the rallying cry for these illegal immigrant protests is that they only want to come here to work and yet they took yesterday off, forced numerous businesses to close down, caused a loss in profits to many of these businesses and took their children out of school and prevented them from learning so that they might have a better life?
There is a lot more to the illegal immigration debate than protests against legislation that would protect our borders and punishing those who break the law.

opus said...

While I like that you've decided not to dive into the specifics of the whole debate. When the Border Patrol in my particular area has picked up over 80,000 in 7 months trying to sneak in, then being xenophobic seems justified.
Being against illegals does not mean being against immigration, legal immigration.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Your definition of America is foreign citizens marching in our streets demanding rights to which they aren't entitled?

As for your first paragraph, that's "guilt by association": Person A is against topic B. Person A is a bad person. Therefore, topic B is good.

Here's something to think about: what happens if we give those marchers what they want? And, what happens if we don't give them what they want?

FrancesDanger said...

You know, these pics are too cool. We were discussing this issue at work today and it got pretty heated, until I put forth my idea.

As a Native American I believe that anyone 1/2 Native and above should craft the legislation. I mean, we can't have all you 'illegals' who took our land back in the day writing it now, can we?

laNDN said...

¡Si se puede!

Peggy Archer said...

publius - It was an attempt to demonstrate the economic power of those who weren't born in the US. I don't know where you live, but in Los Angeles, it was very successful. And, just so you know.. not all of those who marched were illegal.

Opus - I understand. It's not a simple issue.

Lone Wacko - No, my defintion of America is a bunch of folks forgetting everything except what they have in common - in this case, hunger, but perhaps the statement was a bit obtuse.

Frances - Good point!

landn - :)

Anonymous said...

I like your observations and applaud your noting that we, as human beings, have much in common. Not obtuse at all.

Those who should be taken to task are not the immigrants, but the employers who exploit the situation and our government's (purposely?) ineffectual border control. People will always come to this country as long as they can have even a marginally better life.

Anonymous said...

I drove through the rally in downtown a couple of months ago-and had no idea it was going on until I was right there (also work on set & can sometimes be completely oblivious to the news on the busier weeks). It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.

Regardless of anybody's opinion on immigration-they have to admit it's pretty bad ass seeing that many people together that believe in the same thing so passionately!!

lolo said...

Hi Peggy, love your blog. I don't even know how I feel about the whole immigration thing. But I really enjoyed sharing your experience of the rally.

Spike said...

I'm against the xenophobia that seems to sometimes grip otherwise sensible people.

I hear ya.

I teach legal immigrants and it is no exaggeration that there are people qualified as doctors in their home country who are cleaning toilets now.

This crap about migrants legal or illegal taking jobs from citizens is crap. They do the jobs we don't want. They clean our toilets.

Dan said...

I've noticed some are confused about why the march took place in the first place: It was because some bonehead senator wanted to make illegal immigration a felony. That's why they're marching, not to get at government services. As far as getting in Legally: the normal channels can take as long as 20 years. Would you wait that long if your children were starving? If Nike shoes and other companies paid the US minimum wage in Mexico, the problem would be solved. As a side note: a recent study showed that watching FOX news make you less informed, not more.