by Emmanuel Garcia
On March 10, over 3,000 people congregated at the Loop's Federal Plaza for the one-year anniversary of the megamarches that took place across the country last spring.
Attendance was dramatically lower than last year's monumental march that put Chicago traffic at a standstill.
With Congress saying it is coming close to immigration reform, many want the current administration to suspend the ICE ( Immigration and Customs Enforcement ) raids currently taking place in small and large numbers in factories across the U.S. Most of the signs read 'No more raids, no more deportations!'
Chicago's LGBTQ community also came out—flying rainbow flags and holding signs that read, among other things, 'Comunidad de Gays Latinos Presente' ( 'Gay Latino Community Present' ) . Many feel that the representation of gay organizations in the current movement is setting the standard for fair representation of all that encompass the immigrant community. Many have complained of being shunned at marches and rallies for the display of pride flags. A couple of LGBT organizations have formed in response to the need for support that immigrant gays and lesbians have expressed.
ALMA [ Association of Latino Men for Action ] Executive Director Carlos Castillon was invited to speak to the cheering crowds. 'I am an immigrant, a Latino and I am gay,' he said. 'I come to represent ... We are sons and daughters of Latino families; love your children as they are.' The crowd responded with applause.A familiar voice in the Latino gay community, Tania Unzueta, spoke about the needs of thousands of undocumented youth in our educational system and the displacement that happens after graduating from colleges and universities across America. She concluded her speech by saying, 'We demand—as students, as youth, as woman, workers, the gay community, indigenous people, immigrants—unconditional legalization that includes the rights [ for ] all of us.'
Each voice echoed the call for a May 1 boycott and invitation to march. On May 1, 2006, over 500,000 marched from diverse areas around the city to Grant Park in support of immigrant rights.
The number of immigrants in the United States ranges from 28.4 million to 31.1 million, according to AFSC.org .