You could say the May Day rally (more photos in this set) at the Capitol, one of dozens around the country, was about immigration reform. You could just as well say it was about the American Dream. "Si se puede" ("yes we can") was the rallying cry that united the marchers.
Participants were protesting the new Arizona immigration law, SB 1070, that threatens constitutional rights and creates a climate of fear for legal and illegal immigrants alike. It was a rally in favor of decency, equality and human rights. It was a rally against the forces of bigotry and fear.
It's a never ending struggle that reaches far beyond Arizona, whose new law is just the most extreme example of the immigration xenophobia that permeates American life, usually stoked by cynical politicians for their own ends. And, as the WSJ reported, it's not as if we don't have problems right here in Madison.
Alex Gillis of the Immigrant Workers Union, which led the effort to organize the rally, said the Arizona law was a powerful motivator for those who want federal law to protect immigrants.America is a nation of immigrants. Immigrants built this country. We're at our best when we welcome immigrants -- and we're at our worst when we turn our backs on them in fear of "outsiders."
“This is about taking our country back,” Gillis told the cheering crowd.
Gillis and other speakers also criticized the Dane County Sheriff’s Office practice of informing federal authorities about jail inmates who don’t have permission to be in the U.S.