More than a thousand protesters, many holding “Boycott Arizona” signs, gathered in Chicano Park and marched downtown Saturday in one of dozens of marches nationwide.
Immigrant rights activists hoped Arizona's controversial immigration law would spur tens of thousands to protest and add urgency to pleas for federal immigration reform.
Activists in San Diego marched from Chicano Park to the Federal Building on Front St.
“It’s really important to make a strong showing that our communities are united, we’re organized and we’re not going to accept these laws in California,” immigrant rights activist Adam Osorio said. “Hopefully we’ll increase the momentum on pushing through immigration reform.”
A rally in support of the new Arizona enforcement law was also held in front of the U.S. Federal Building Saturday. Police officers monitored both events. When asked about a possible confrontation, immigrant rights activists said it would be a peaceful march and they would ignore any resistance.
Demonstrators turned out at rallies across the country to call for federal immigration reform and vent their anger at a controversial new Arizona law. The law requires local Arizona law officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.
Critics say the law is unconstitutional and encourages racial profiling and discrimination against immigrants. Supporters say the law is necessary because of the federal government's failure to secure the border, and they pointed to an attack Friday on a sheriff's deputy in southern Arizona as proof something had to be done.
Singer Gloria Estefan kicked off a massive march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
"We're good people," the Cuban-born singer said aboard flatbed truck. "We've given a lot to this country. This country has given a lot to us."
Oswaldo Osorio, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who paid his smuggler $150 to cross the border in San Diego 18 years ago, turned out with his wife, also in the U.S. illegally, and their two U.S.-born daughters. All four waved American flags. Osorio, 38, said his family wanted to make a statement for giving immigrants legal status and protesting Arizona's law.
Activists aren't alone in their opposition to Arizona's law. California legislators have mulled canceling contracts with Arizona in protest.