I was certainly not alone--somewhere between 350,000 and 500,000 people took part in the amazing show of concern over current discussions in our Congress about immigration reform.
A month or so ago, the 109th U.S. Congress put forward H.R. 4437: Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005.
The legislation would make it a felony to be in the country without proper documentation. In addition, the bill would also make it a felony punishable by prison time and stiff fines for anyone to assist those here without proper documentation.
Late last week the U. S. Senate failed in its attempt to pass a much more open immigration reform bill.
The combination of the Senate's failure and the passage of H. R. 4437 turned the crowds out and into the streets.
The march was an amazing experience.
This march was a family affair. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children of all ages walked hand-in-hand through the streets of Dallas from the Cathedral de Guadalupe to City Hall.
They showed up!
But, most importantly, they were together.
Even though almost half-a-million people gathered, the Dallas Police only had to make one arrest according to last night's news report. The experience was amazingly orderly, polite and patient. Even though it turned out to be a very warm spring afternoon and the crowded conditions had us packed from curb to curb as we walked, no one lost their cool.
The peaceful nature of the march bordered on the surreal.
It was clear the police (who were everywhere) enjoyed themselves--laughing and speaking to the participants. It seemed they were amazed by it all as well.
I don't think I have ever seen as many American flags at one time or in one place before.
It was very clear that everyone understood what is at stake in the current immigration debate.
The signs that people held and the slogans they chanted--particularly the strong "U. S. A." cheers--made it very clear that I was spending the afternoon with people eager to become American citizens.
A number of the signs and posters referred to work, labor. One sign read simply, "We are willing to do the dirty work."
Another read, "Immigrants pay taxes too!"
When we arrived at the plaza in front of City Hall, there were speeches by a number of local Latino leaders. The crowd fanned out across the area and back into Downtown Dallas for as far as I could see. The photos in today's Dallas Morning News will surprise people, I know.
At one point the classic rock anthem, "Coming to America" blared out across the crowd.
People shouted for joy and everyone tried to dance!
As I walked out of downtown yesterday, a couple of things were very clear to me.
Congress, especially the House of Representatives, has a problem. There is simply no feasible way to send millions of hard working people with families out of the country.
And if it were possible, why would we want to lose people like this?
We need people like the ones I marched with yesterday afternoon.
There is nothing new here. People like these immigrants built our nation. They are no different than my Scotch-Irish ancestors.
We are all immigrants.
The presence of us all explains the magic that is America.
I saw it again yesterday on the streets of Dallas.
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
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