By: Stan Santos
On May 1, 2006, I stood on a corner near downtown Fresno and looked east. I was suddenly moved to tears by the sight of a river of humanity flowing down Ventura, formerly Cesar Chavez Blvd. toward City Hall. As it turned the corner onto P Street, it was clear that the line stretched for miles. I would soon learn that there were still people leaving the starting point, near Kings Canyon and Chestnut. Some estimates state that more than 10,000 people filled the area in front of City Hall, reducing it to an open-air amphitheater. I saw a sea of men and women, young and old, and hundreds of children standing with their homemade banners, flags, pride and a sense of coming into some newfound power.
May 1, 2006, was like a historic arrival of people who have always been here. For many observers and participants, it was a cathartic, uplifting event. For others, it was reduced to “and they had the gall to fly flags from different countries!” Whichever perspective they chose, there was one undeniable reality: undocumented families, workers, homebuyers, taxpayers, the elderly and their children were on the march. They were proud and brave, and they were joined by resident and citizen relatives, friends and supporters.
It is now four years later, and one U.S. President has passed his administration and wars off to another, in an astounding shift of power. Yet, justice has not materialized for immigrant families. The “path to citizenship” has yet to be found. The dream is far from becoming reality, as a storm of reaction is spurred on by economic disaster in the United States. Fear, anger and disillusion drive many who might otherwise share the same reality as disenfranchised, working class and poor. Conservatives exploit the economic crisis to polarize communities and weaken efforts for change. Immigration and other critical reforms face seemingly impossible odds.
In this climate fraught with hope amid uncertainty, immigrant leaders and supporters are calling on Fresno and surrounding communities to again Rally for Immigration Reform. The focus of these efforts is to support legislation proposed by Representative Luis Gutierrez, Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity, HR 4321.
The Rally for Immigration Reform will take place on May 1, 2010, at Eaton Plaza, Fresno and O Street, in downtown Fresno, beginning at 4 p.m. The May First Committee – Comite 1ro de Mayo urges all to join this effort for just, comprehensive immigration reform. For information, contact 559-341-4556, 559-407-0206, 559-237-6459 or 559-499-1178.