––––•(-• ÅM€RÏÇÄN M€ II•-)•––––
OUT FROM THE SHADOWS
JOSE CHICAS HAD LONGED for this moment ever since 1982, when as a young man he fled the civil war in is native EL Salvador and crossed iligally intoCalifornia.
Over all those years of pick-up contruction jobs for low wages,Chicas kept dreamingthat all hardworking immigrants like himself would one day step out of the shadows, cast off their fears of being deportedand finally demand respect.
Yesterday afternoon, chicas stood prouodly on the back of a pickup truck watching his dream come true in the brilliant spring sunshine of lower manhattan.
Around him were hundreds of fellow members from local 79 of the laborers’s International Union, all signing in with Chicas for the union’s contingent at the big immigrant rights rally at City Hall.
By 5 p.m, the throngs from the big City Hall rally stretched north along Broadway for more than 15 blocks,as police seemed surprised by the size of the turnout.
The torrent of chanting faces and flags streched past canal st. paralyzing rush-hour trafic in every direction.The same scene was repeated all across America, as hundreds of thousands of hotel workers,gardeners,nannies and skilled factory hands streamed into the streets of more than than 100 cities.
Never–not even at the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s-has therebeen such an outpouring of our nation’s huddled masses as during the past few weeks over this immigration debate.
Don’t buy for a moment the nonsense that protests don’t matter, that all these marchers are illegal immigrants who can’t vote so the politicians can simply ignore them.When black people shook the south with their protests, they couldn’t vote,either.
And there is Assemblyman Adriano Espadilla (D Washington Heights).Espaillant came to this country several decades ago,overstayed his visa and was once an illigal immigrant himself.
Today he is one of the most respected Dominican leaders in this town and helped organized a half dozen separate contingents from northern Manhattan for yesterdays march.
And so it is so many legal residents and even american citizens.
Having once been branded "illigal" themselfs, they are furios at how some Washington lawmakers are eager to turn desperate workers into felons and tear apart whole families in the proces.
Backers of a immigration crackdown will tell you there’s a huge chasm between legal and illegal immigrants .
OUR NATIVE AMERICANS would disagree. They still say all of us were illegal once.The descendants of the original Mexican settlers of Texas and California swear Sam Houston,David Crockett and all their progeny should never have been allowed to cross the border.
At least Chicas and the latest 11 million didn’t come here with guns,determined to impose their will. They came with hands uotstreched and eager to work for whatever someone would pay.
Now that they’ve stepped out of the shadows, all they want is a little respect from the country they love.