150 people march in Victoria to protest Arizona immigration law
May 1, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
Their chants rang out down Bridge Street as the marchers waved American flags Saturday morning.
"Justicia! Si se puede!" they yelled enthusiastically, or "Justice! Yes, it can be done!"
The crowd of about 150 people, both adults and children, were led by local leaders of the League of United Latin American Citizens as a protest to the new Arizona immigration law.
The march echoed many others Saturday across Texas and the nation aimed overturning the controversial law.
"We're coming together hoping to make some good changes," said Francisco Acosta, a Victoria resident.
Arizona's law will require immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times as proof they are here legally if questioned by police.
The march started at Trinity Hall, at the corner of Bridge Street and River Street, and ended at the De Leon Plaza gazebo.
Many carried posters that read messages such as "We are not criminals," "Nuestro Sueno: Immigration Reform," and "We ask for fair immigration reform."
Acosta brought his 14-month-old daughter, Sandra, in hopes that she will remember this march when she's older.
"It's important that when they grow up, they know what we are going through," Acosta said. "Hopefully, by then there won't be any more laws like this one."
After crossing Constitution Street, the crowd marched around the plaza before gathering at the gazebo for some speeches by LULAC leaders.
"What we're asking for is for this law in Arizona to be abolished," said Benny Martinez, a local LULAC director. "It is discriminatory and it is against the Constitution, and we don't like those kind of laws."
Undocumented workers already settled in the United States should be allowed to stay, Martinez said.
"Let them stay here, but let them pay their dues the way we Americans have to pay our dues," he said. "Let them become American citizens. You do not have to be born in the United States to be an American."
Having a law similar to Arizona's in Texas won't be tolerated either, said Mary Lou Canales, a LULAC state officer.
"In Arizona, they passed this law and now in Texas, they want to pass one here too," Canales said in Spanish. "Are we going to let them? No. We're going to have this march and perhaps many others."
Joe Truman, a Victoria city council member for Super District 5, said Arizona's new law is unfair to minorities.
"What Arizona is doing is an unfair way of pulling over people of the wrong color," he told the crowd. "We are all different colors here, and there are different colored illegals all across the country."
Truman's mother is an immigrant, too, he told them.
"My mother came to this country from war-torn Europe - from Austria," said Truman, who is seeking re-election May 8. "What we are here today for is to ask for fairness in immigration. Everyone has the right to dream to be better. We just need to come up with a better way of doing it."
Myra Duran, a 17-year-old of Goliad, is headed to Arizona in June to see her family.
The new law makes her nervous, she said.
"I don't want to go over there and not be able to come back," she said. "I was born in America."
Her grandmother, Martha Jarisch, isn't sure how much legal documentation to send with Myra.
"Now it's scary just to send her over there," Jarisch, 56, said. "Do I send her with enough papers, or do I not send her with enough papers? I want her to come back."