Immigration rallies draw 1,000 in Vegas, 300 Reno | NevadaAppeal.com

Immigration rallies draw 1,000 in Vegas, 300 Reno

SCOTT SONNER
Associated Press Writer

RENO – More than 1,000 people marched in Las Vegas and hundreds rallied in Reno on Saturday in support of immigration reform while protesting Arizona’s new illegal immigration law with signs that read “Say No to Arizona Racism” and “No Human Being is Illegal.”

Union workers, local activists and some families with children on bicycles were among about 300 people in Reno who marched a few miles from a park near downtown to a Cinco de Mayo Festival in the parking lot of a hotel-casino.

Several waved American flags and others carried banners that read “God Bless America, Land of Immigrants” and “We Speak English, We Pay Taxes, Let Us Live in Peace.”

“Our broken immigration system dishonors America,” said Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, one of the organizers of the rally held in conjunction with May 1 demonstrations across the country.

“The race to enact the most draconian anti-immigrant measures, led by Arizona, undermines the liberty and freedom our veterans fought to uphold,” he said in a speech at Picket Park across the street from Renown Medical Center. “Basta! Enough!”

Arizona’s law requires local law officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they’re here illegally.

From Los Angeles to Washington D.C., activists, families, students and even politicians marched, practiced civil disobedience and “came out” about their citizenship status in the name of rights for immigrants, including the estimated 12 million living illegally in the U.S.

Keith Ingram was one of the few counter protesters the demonstrators encountered in Reno on Saturday.

“I think Arizona has got a good law, because it keeps the illegal aliens out,” Ingram said.

“They’re a drain on our social system. They’re a drain on our police resources,” he said.

Jorge Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, was among the throng in Las Vegas. He said changes in the system would not only benefit the immigrant community but local businesses as well.

“As a bustling hub, Las Vegas knows what it means to have immigrants be part of the motor that makes Las Vegas work,” Cabrera said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the crowd in Las Vegas Congress is ready and committed to coming up with fair legislation regardless of the obstacle ahead.

“Everybody said we couldn’t get health care (reform) done, but we did. And immigration reform has the same features of justice that health care did,” he told reporters after.

Keith Ingram was one of the few counter protesters the demonstrators encountered in Reno on Saturday.

“I think Arizona has got a good law, because it keeps the illegal aliens out,” Ingram said.

“They’re a drain on our social system. They’re a drain on our police resources,” he said.

State Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, said Arizona’s law is a misguided, discriminatory and “tragic for Arizonans and for our country.”

“Directing law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship based on the color of a person’s skin, the way they dress, or the language they happen to be speaking is unconstitutional and un-American,” she said.

Fulkerson said the Arizona law is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany, relying on “their countrymen and women to spy on each other and entrust sweeping powers to the police.”

“It is a new, awesome form of government strong-arming that has no place in a country that promises to extend ‘liberty and justice for all,”‘ he said.

Ron Kamimkow, a Reno organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, echoed that sentiment on behalf of his union urging the “unity of working class people all over the world.”

“Germany blamed its economic woes on Jews and minorities, gypsies, trade unions, foreigners and homosexuals,” Kamimkow said. “We’re in a similar danger of going down a similar road, blaming poor working immigrant families when, in fact, the current depression or recession in the U.S. was caused by Wall Street.”