DALLAS — Supporters of immigration reform in Congress are planning another march in downtown Dallas on May 1, hoping for another sizable turnout like a similar rally four years ago.
The April 2006 demonstration protested an immigration bill in the Republican-controlled Congress that would have made illegal immigrants felons.
After all reform efforts failed, North Texas Hispanic groups — calling themselves the Mega March 2010 Coalition — say with the Democrats in charge, it's time to try again.
Carlos Quintanilla is one of the activists who spoke at a Dallas City Hall news conference on Thursday. "Let’s send a message to Barack Obama, to Congress, that the time for comprehensive immigration reform is today — and not next year or the year after," he said.
There is no bill filed yet, but the broad outlines of legislation are forming in the Senate, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Sen. Charles Schumer (R-New York) that would require:
- All citizens and legal immigrants to carry biometric Social Security cards for confirming identity
- More border security and enforcement against employers
- A temporary workers program
- A pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants
The last point is perhaps the most controversial, but Diana Flores — a board trustee at the Dallas County Community College District — says it is vital.
"It behooves the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the leadership in this country to work together to bring these families out of the shadows,” she said.
The problem is that Sen. Graham believes immigration reform is “pretty much” dead for this year because of the raw feelings remaining after the health care debate.
Even though May 1 march may be a futile effort, organizers like Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia vow to press on. "We are tired of mañana," he said. "We want immigration reform now."
Police estimated the 2006 crowd at 350,000 to 500,000. Organizers of the 2010 Mega March hope to attract about 100,000 for the downtown event that would start at Santuario de Guadalupe Cathedral and end at Dallas City Hall.