In the run up to a massive rally for immigrant rights in San Francisco, local Chinese community- mostly made up of immigrants- is urged to participate actively and let their voice heard by the nation.
Organized by some pro-immigrant organizations based in San Francisco Bay Area, the rally is set for 11:00 a.m. on May 1 in San Francisco downtown and is expected to drawn some hundred thousands of protestors. Starting from Justin Herman Plaza via Market Street all the way to San Francisco City Hall, the route passes by the busiest area in downtown so as to raise people’s awareness on the issue.
Despite of the huge immigrant population in San Francisco Bay Area, the scale of the previous rally last Monday was not as huge as that in Los Angeles and New York, showing that a lack of concern over the immigration reform. Sources say around 1,000 demonstrated in Oakland in the morning while in San Jose an estimated 25,000 people took to the streets.
In San Francisco the rally started at 5 p.m. at the intersection of 16th and Mission streets. Participants walked to 24th and Mission streets. Demonstrators estimated by police to number 5,000.
Christian leaders and pastors from the Presbyterian Church have called on support, according the 13 April press conference held at the largely-Latino Mission District for the upcoming rally, the Chinese newspaper World Journal reported.
The aim of the rally is to protest against the pending federal legislation HR 4437 that would make it a felony to enter the U.S. without legal documentation and that would penalize anyone helping undocumented immigrants.
A bill passed by the House would crack down on illegal immigrants and strengthen the U.S. border with Mexico. A broader overhaul of immigration law stalled in the Senate last week and lawmakers went on a two-week break. It is estimated that there are 11 million immigrants who are illegally living and working in the United States.
One of the leaders of the upcoming rally, Rev. Fong Shiu Leong, is from the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown, San Francisco. He said the HR 4437 will not only have influence the immigrants, but also for religious workers, World Journal reported. As religious organizations helped all people regardless of their nationalities and background, they have been working with the illegal immigrants as well, and that is going to be made illegal by passing the HR 4437. Rev Fong therefore encourages more Chinese to join the rally.
According to the result of a telephone poll Wednesday by the Field Research Corporation of San Francisco, three quarters of California voters favor allowing some illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens, but 60 percent support imposing stiff penalties on employers who hire undocumented workers, reported the Associated Press (AP).
Additionally, Southern Californians outside of Los Angeles generally favored harsher measures than voters in the nine-county San Francisco Bay area.
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has backed the pro-immigrants movement. He had led demonstrators in prayers last week before the rally.
"We are America, a nation of immigrants seeking a better life," said Mahony, the leader of the nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese.