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Thousands of Workers Take 'A Day Off' to Protest Immigration Law

SAN FRANCISCO - Thousands of illegal immigrants, workers and supporters took to the streets, Monday, to demonstrate against the proposed U.S. immigration law.
( [email protected] ) May 01, 2006 08:52 AM EDT
SAN FRANCISCO - Thousands of illegal immigrants, workers and supporters took to the streets, Monday, to demonstrate against the proposed U.S. immigration law.
Thousands of illegal immigrants, workers and supporters took to the streets, Monday, to demonstrate against the proposed U.S. immigration law. Photo: Gospel Herald/ Hudson Tsuei

SAN FRANCISCO - Thousands of illegal immigrants, workers and supporters took to the streets, Monday, to demonstrate against the proposed U.S. immigration law.

"I don’t want them (U.S. officials) to pass laws to make any immigration to the U.S. a crime," said Sam Wang, a 34-year-old Cantonese-speaking Catholic from China, who is unemployed and now studying at Cal State Haywood.

Wang, who immigrated from Guangdong, China, was seen marching alongside his friends whom were Latinos, Hispanics and Chinese.

Businesses throughout the Bay Area surrounding San Francisco have closed their shops or have workers whom attended the rally.

Though the rally consisted mainly of Latin Americans, a few Asian Americans including Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodians could be seen wearing the characteristic white t-shirts that most of the protestors wore.

"There’s over a million undocumented immigrants from Asia," said a 28-year-old schoolteacher, Clifford Lee, who was touting a sign reading "Hong Konger for Immigration Rights."

Lee immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong with his Chinese parents in 1986 before becoming a history and English teacher at the Life Academy in the neighboring city of Oakland.

He said that about 70 percent of his students are of Mexican origins. Many of his students, who are U.S. citizens, have immigrant parents whom do not have documentation and are subject to deportation.

"I have kid’s parents who are deported. A lot of (my) student’s parents pay taxes, but they got deported," Lee continued. "I wanted to support these people (immigrants) because our (U.S.) history is based on immigration."

Due to mass media attention received in previous rallies, the "Day Without Immigrants" – "Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes" in Spanish – became widespread though fragmented in various U.S. cities.

South of San Franisco, in Los Angeles, hundreds of thousands of immigrants carried flags of their homeland and the U.S. after taking a break from working at farms, factories, markets and restaurants.

The White House did not react well to the protests. "The president is not a fan of boycotts," said press secretary Scott McClellan, according to AP. "People have the right to peacefully express their views, but the president wants to see comprehensive reform pass the Congress so that he can sign it into law."

The boycott was led by immigration activists who claimed the upcoming federal legislation would further block the U.S-Mexico border entrance of illegal immigrants, whom make up a bulk of the U.S. workforce.

Proponents for tougher measures on the border control say that the new legislation would prevent the infiltration of terrorists into the United States. Following the Sept. 11 attacks, some new sources reported the failed infiltration of individuals from "nation’s of particular concern" – including Muslim countries – on the Mexican border.

The new legislation will be subject to discussion along with several competing bill in congress this spring.