April 11, 2006
Coverage of the rallies

Here's a brief roundup of coverage on yesterday's National Day of Action for immigration rights.

Rally packs downtown Houston

Tens of thousands of people skipped work on Monday, scooped up their children and flocked to downtown Houston to demand equal rights for immigrants in one of dozens of demonstrations held around the nation.

No one knew before the Houston protest began how many people might turn out.

No one knew afterward, either. Crowd estimates varied from 10,000 at mid-day to at least 50,000 as the march reached its peak.

What was clear, at least to many protesters and even a few experts, was that Houston had not seen a larger immigrant protest in several decades, maybe longer.


On Sunday, as many as a half million people protested in favor of immigrant rights in Dallas. Although fewer turned out in Houston, Rice University sociology associate professor Katharine M. Donato said, "I don't think you can compare what happened here in Houston to what happened in Dallas."

"It's Monday. Dallas did this on the weekend," Donato said. "I think it's astounding that you can have as many people out there as were out there on a Monday. People had to leave work."

Donato, who attended the rally, said the crowd was enthusiastic and passionate, but she considered the venue at Allen's Landing Park too small for the turnout.

Marisol Rodriguez, an organizer with the coalition that sponsored the event, estimated that 50,000 people or more took part.

Telemundo, a Spanish-language television network, put the number at more than 30,000.

The Chron's immigration blog gives a peek at the methodology for counting attendees, in case you're curious.

Back to the story:

Brother Robert Lentz of All Saints Catholic Church in the Heights wore a brown Franciscan robe and sandals, saying he "thought it was important that someone from the church show up in a recognizable way."

His own grandmother came to the country illegally from Russia, he said, and his family endured persecution and living in fear for many years.

"These people are almost all Catholics," Lentz said. "These are my people."

That's my neighborhood church. Nicely put, Brother Robert.

I look at it this way: What all these people want, ultimately, is to be Americans. We used to romaticize the notion of people coming to America to actively pursue that American dream. I seem to recall Ronald Reagan speaking warmly on the topic a few times back in the day. Do we really not feel that way any more? Cause I still do.

Anyway. I'm going to save myself a little effort and point you to Dos Centavos for more stories and Casual Soapbox for links to photos. And as a parting thought, consider this.

But in the new Post-ABC News poll, completed Sunday, 50 percent of respondents said they trusted the Democrats to better handle the immigration issue, while 38 percent trusted Republicans. A third of Americans approved of the president's handling of the immigration issue, while 61 percent disapproved. Only his handling of gas prices showed lower approval ratings.

Three-quarters of those responding said the United States is not doing enough to secure its borders, but they appeared to have rejected the argument that immigrants are an economic threat. About 68 percent said illegal immigrants are filling jobs Americans do not want, compared with 29 percent who believe they are taking jobs from Americans.

Maybe we do still feel that way after all. Link via Americablog.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 11, 2006 to National news | TrackBack

I don't think you can overstate the impact of what has happened over the last few weeks. The Dallas rally was, according to reports, the largest ever held in Texas. The Austin rally of about 10,000 was the largest the police had seen in 30 years. Though the crowds were mostly latino, there were many different groups represented, whites, blacks, asians. The sense that I got from being at the Austin rally was that the people were reaffirming that the US is a nation of immigrants, and is great BECAUSE of that fact, not in spite of it. It was the first time in my life that I saw thousands of Mexican immigrants waving American flags and chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A." After all these are people who probably have gotten the American flag waved in their face by someone telling them to go back to Mexico. I hate to use a worn out phrase, but what happened over the last few weeks is a paradigm shift.

Politically, Cornyn and Hutchinson are on the WRONG side of this issue. Hutchinson may have some wiggle room in her (since she has never really spoken up on immigration, to my knowledge), but Cornyn has been anti-citizenship from the beginning. He will be a target come re-election time.

Posted by: Chito on April 11, 2006 1:31 PM

Or as new cartoon at gringoman.com puts it, "El Citizen."

Posted by: Dan Cameron Rodill on April 11, 2006 3:38 PM