Thousands protested across the nation for a Path to Citizenship for Millions of Undocumented Immigrants. In Los Angeles crowds paled in comparison to last years numbers, an estimated 25,000 compared to some 500,000 on March 25, 2006.
In Los Angeles organizers had billed the planned May 1st demonstrations as “La Gran Marcha”, and organizers like activist Javier Rodriguez predicted that “millions ” would turn out.
Some organizers faulted the raids for lowering the turnout of illegal immigrants, but nonetheless claimed success for drawing attention to immigrants’ concerns. “We have already injected ourselves into the national immigration debate,” stated Javier Rodriguez.
The truth is a bit more complicated and is a result of leadership within the coalition's inability to bridge the divisions between themselves, community leaders and radio celebrities on strategy. Absent from todays march were "El Piolin" and El Cucuy, both Spanish radio DJ's who had been instrumental in encouraging people to take to the streets via their radio shows which helped previous marches. These divisions had been surfacing and recently reported by the Orange County Register here .
Despite the low turn out everyone at the march was upbeat and cited various reasons as to why the turn out was low. Some cited fears of the INS raids, being fired from work and others simply stated that low paid immigrant workers could scarcely afford to lose another day of work without pay.
What does this mean for immigration reform? Not much. The organizers will most likely learn from their mistakes and work out their differences. In the meantime the 10+ million or so undocumented immigrants will continue to work, they are our invisible elephant, we may not see them, nor do we always acknowledge them, but we are beginning to understand that it ain't going nowhere.