Mega March leader fears 'ethnic cleansing'

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by DEBBIE DENMON

WFAA

Posted on April 28, 2010 at 9:15 PM

DALLAS — The Mega March planned for Saturday in downtown Dallas is expected to draw at least 10,000 to 20,000 thousand people. They will be protesting the controversial immigration law recently enacted in Arizona.

Local leaders say the Arizona law is racial profiling, and they are taking a stand now that some Texas lawmakers want to push for similar action.

The streets of downtown Dallas were filled with several hundred thousand people in 2006 to protest immigration reform.

At a news conference Wednesday, a diverse group of activists vowed to march again to promote justice for everyone.

"If they come in the morning for brown-skinned people and we remain silent, they may come in the evening for us," said Peter Johnson, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "So we must stand against Arizona."

Johnson marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. He strongly disagrees with Arizona law that now lets police check immigration status at any time.

The biggest fear? "There will be an ethnic cleansing in the State of Arizona," said march organizer Domingo Garcia. "Once we have ethnic cleansing like we had in the Balkans, next there will be Oklahoma that has bills pending, and other states could follow."

Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) is pushing for a law similar to Arizona's. "If they've stopped someone speeding and there's a whole truckload of folks that appear to be day laborers, then they might have reasonable suspicion," she said. "It's common sense."

Riddle said her bill would give Texas police officers the tools they need if they have reasonable suspicion to stop someone.

"The opponents of this want to make it a big racial profiling thing, a big racist thing," she said. "It has nothing to do with that; it has everything to do with safety and security."

Even the president of the National Council of Jewish Women, who attended Wednesday's news conference, will join Saturday's Mega March, saying no state — including Texas — should pass a law similar to Arizona's, saying immigration reform is the federal government's responsibility.

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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