- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 26, 2006

From combined dispatches

LOS ANGELES — Tens of thousands of immigrant rights advocates from across Southern California marched yesterday in protest of federal legislation that would install fences along the U.S.-Mexico border and make helping illegal aliens a crime.

The march followed rallies on Friday that drew throngs of protesters to major cities across the nation.

Yesterday, demonstrators streamed into downtown Los Angeles for what was one of the city’s largest pro-immigrant rallies. The crowd was estimated at up to 500,000, police said.

“We have got to stop the approval of anti-immigrant reforms, demand a migration reform that is humane and fair, and not racist,” said Javier Rodriguez of the March 25 Coalition, which organized the event.

Mr. Rodriguez billed the event the “largest Hispanic protest march in U.S. history.”

Many of the marchers wore white shirts to symbolize peace and also waved U.S. flags. Some also carried the flags of Mexico and other countries, or wore them as capes.

Elger Aloy, 26, of Riverside, Calif., pushed a stroller with his 8-month-old son at the march.

“I think it’s just inhumane. … Everybody deserves the right to a better life,” Mr. Aloy said of the legislation.

“They say we are criminals. We are not criminals,” said Salvador Hernandez, 43, of Los Angeles, a resident alien who came to the United States illegally from El Salvador 14 years ago and worked as a truck driver, painter and day laborer.

Francisco Flores, 27, a wood-flooring installer from Santa Clarita, Calif., who is a former illegal alien, said, “We want to work legally, so we can pay our taxes and support the country, our country.”

The House has passed legislation that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal aliens and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border. The Senate is to begin debating the proposals on Tuesday.

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