Into the streets

In an extension of the massive demonstrations that occurred in Los Angeles — attracting an estimated 500,000 people — and several other U.S. cities last week, a protest of immigration "reform" legislation working its way through Congress was held in Detroit on Monday.

The object of ire is a bill passed last December in the U.S. House and now before the Senate. If approved there and signed by President Bush, the legislation, among other things, would make illegal immigration a felony and provide $2.2 billion to construct a 700-mile-long fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The protests already appear to have had some effect. On Monday, AP reported that the Senate had added a provision to the legislation that would protect churches, charitable groups and individuals from criminal prosecution for providing food, shelter, medical care and other assistance to undocumented workers.

The local clergy group Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES) organized the Detroit demonstration. We're told that demonstrators, estimated in news accounts to be at least several thousand strong, included a mix of legal and undocumented immigrants. The march started in the Hispanic enclave of southwest Detroit at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Vernor Highway around 10 a.m. and ended near noon at the McNamara Federal Building on Michigan Avenue. Representatives of labor unions and community groups also filled the ranks.

"We're just trying to be humans," Jesus Ibarra told us as we moved along with the throng. "We are just trying to prove that we are all in this together. Whatever happens to the Hispanic community affects everyone."

The protestors' chant of "si se puede," Spanish for "yes we can," could be heard blocks away. Some waved the flags of Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States, while others held signs reading "We the illegals are doing jobs the U.S. won't do," and "We don't blow up buildings, we build them."

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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