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.
Until the marchers came - waves and waves of them.
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.
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.
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.