- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 1, 2006

From combined dispatches

Thousands of immigrants formed a line stretching more than a mile yesterday as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, waving flags from more than a dozen countries as they demonstrated against possible immigration reform in Congress.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps gathered for the start of a new monthlong campaign to call attention to the continued flow of illegal aliens across the U.S. border with Mexico.

In New York, more than 10,000 people flooded Foley Square, turning it into a sea of colorful banners and echoing noise.

“If you hurt immigrants, you are hurting America,” read a sign held by one marcher. “We are your economy,” another said.

Another marcher, a woman from Mexico who spoke no English, carried a sign reading, “I cleaned up ground zero.”

Julio Diaz, 30, an illegal alien cafeteria worker who came to the United States at age 17 from Veracruz, Mexico, marched with his wife and two children, ages 7 and 8, who carried American flags.

“We came today to support legalizing immigrants like me,” he said. “We don’t need amnesty, but we would like temporary visas so we don’t risk our lives crossing the border to visit our families.”

The House passed a bill in December that defines illegal aliens as felons and calls for the construction of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Competing legislation under consideration in the Senate would take an opposite approach and give the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States a chance at citizenship.

The New York protest was the largest of several held across the country yesterday.

In Costa Mesa, Calif., an estimated 1,500 people turned out in wind and rain to protest a crackdown on illegal aliens and praise the contributions of immigrants.

The mostly young and Hispanic crowd marched around city hall, waving U.S. and Mexican flags. School buses dropped off loads of demonstrators while a heavy police presence kept an eye on the boisterous, but peaceful, event.

Among the more provocative signs carried by the demonstrators was one that said, “This is our continent, you stupid Americans.”

As demonstrators marched in support of immigrant rights, about 200 Minuteman volunteers concerned over the continued flow of illegal aliens into the United States gathered in Three Points, Ariz., for a border vigil.

At a rally yesterday kicking off the monthlong project, politicians and activists opposing illegal immigration gave fiery speeches calling for more border control.

Don Goldwater, a Republican candidate for Arizona governor, said he had a message for President Bush.

“Build us that wall now,” Mr. Goldwater said, referring to a measure that would add 700 miles of fences along the border. He promised that if elected, he would put illegal aliens in a tent city on the border and use their labor to build the wall. Mr. Goldwater is a nephew of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Chris Simcox, the Minuteman group’s national leader, said four watering stations placed by the group Humane Borders to keep migrants from dying in the desert will be among the sites under surveillance. Last year, more than 400 people died trying to cross the desert, many from dehydration or heat exposure, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

“We watch them all the time,” Mr. Simcox said of the water stations. “It’s a great place to report illegal activities.”

Along with their binoculars, cell phones and radios, a number of the Minuteman volunteers wore side arms, including state Rep. Russell Pearce, a Republican and a leading voice in the Arizona Legislature calling for a crackdown on illegal aliens. They were all under strict orders to call the Border Patrol and to avoid confronting intruders or drawing their weapons, said Mr. Simcox and Stacey O’Connell, leader of the Arizona chapter.

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