Los Angeles: Thousands of immigrants poured into the streets of Los Angeles on Sunday to demand that President Barack Obama fulfill his campaign promise to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants.
"Legalization or no re-election!" chanted the demonstrators participating in protest on May Day protest, a holiday mostly ignored in the United States.
Most were immigrants from Central America and Mexico demanding the immigration reform Obama has promised for some of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States to gain legal status.
Organizers said 10,000 immigrants protested downtown, while the Los Angeles Police Department put the crowd's numbers at 3,500.
Though leaders of the pro-immigration reform movement advocate for immigrant rights, they have largely stopped short of asking the Hispanic community to vote against the president and his fellow Democrats in the 2012 elections after Hispanics played a significant role in bringing Obama to the White House.
"We all known that it is the Republicans who are blocking immigration reform and that a Republican administration would simply stall all our requests, so we cannot threaten right now that we will vote against Obama," said Javier Rodriguez of the March 25 Coalition.
But Alfredo Gutierrez, a former Democratic state senator from Arizona, said Obama could not be counted on to enact the promised reforms.
"We should deny our votes to Obama, a man who clearly is not sincere about his intentions," he told AFP.
"We will not get anything from Obama. We just need his to stop the systematic deportation of children, students and parents, because it is destroying our community."
Maricarmen, an undocumented Mexican-born woman who has lived in the United States for 10 years, blamed "American double standards."
"We work hard. They say we don't have papers but we are employed and we pay taxes, just like any other citizen here."
She said she wanted to get legalized so she could travel to Mexico to visit her family. "I live here to work and because I need to do so, I'm not robbing anybody," added the woman who only gave her first name, adding that she was working as a cashier at a supermarket.
In the fiscal year that ended September 30 alone, the United States deported a over 392,000 unauthorized immigrants, a record.
Thousands more protesters marched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in support of immigrant and worker rights, according to estimates provided by local media.
Milwaukee saw its congenial political culture change after Governor Scott Walker introduced a proposal in February to strip unions of collective bargaining power.
The bill sparked huge protests and led 14 Democratic state senators to flee to neighboring Illinois in a futile attempt to stop its passage.
Opponents of the changes say the measures seek to kill public sector unions, which tend to back Democrats.
"This is an aggressive attack on the basic democratic process and a consolidation of corporate power," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Voces de la Frontera, a group tasked with rallying labor membership among the region's growing Hispanic population.
First Published: Monday, May 02, 2011, 10:44