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July 4, 2015

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Reid tells May Day rally: Country owes immigrants a ‘permanent solution’


Steve Marcus

A sea of marchers head southbound on Las Vegas Boulevard during a May Day rally and march for comprehensive immigration reform in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The event started at the George Federal Building downtown, then marchers traveled south to a rally at St. Louis Square near the Stratosphere.

2013: May Day Rally and March

Roberto Jacobo returns a chant during a May Day rally and march for comprehensive immigration reform at St. Louis Square Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The event started at the George Federal Building downtown, then marchers traveled south on Las Vegas Boulevard, finishing with a rally at St. Louis Square near the Stratosphere. Launch slideshow »
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is joined by Congressman Steven Horsford, left, and Congresswoman Dina Titus as he speaks during a May Day rally for comprehensive immigration reform in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, May 1, 2013. The event started at the George Federal Building downtown, then marchers traveled south on Las Vegas Boulevard, finishing with a rally at St. Louis Square near the Stratosphere.

Thousands of people gathered downtown Wednesday afternoon to rally in support of immigration reform, then chanted their way down Las Vegas Boulevard toward the Stratosphere while passing vehicles honked their horns in support.

Labor organizers, politicians and community leaders spoke in favor of passing the U.S. Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration reform package unveiled in April, which would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally while reforming visa programs and border security measures.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the crowd, many of whom were waving U.S. flags and wearing either red, white or blue T-shirts: “We’re going to get it done.”

“(This country owes) … the 11 million people a permanent solution. That’s what comprehensive immigration reform is all about: a permanent solution. And we are going to do that. We are going to fix a system that is broken. We are going to continue to work on a program that is tough but fair,” Reid said, flanked by Rep. Dina Titus, D–Las Vegas; Rep. Steven Horsford, D–North Las Vegas; and Blanca Gamez, a UNLV graduate who recently received a work permit through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

While the speakers addressed the crowd from a podium on the steps in front of the Lloyd George Federal Building, a small counter-protest of approximately a dozen people — one of whom held a sign reading “Do your job, defend the constitution” — did their best to make their voices heard using a bullhorn.

Karen Steelmon, one of those against the reform bill, held a sign calling it a “train wreck” and said the legislation was being rushed through the Senate.

“We don’t have any idea what the future implications will be for the economy,” Steelmon said of the reform package. “I think it should be a case-by-case basis. … They should have to prove they can support themselves, they won’t be a public charge and not causing trouble while they are here, and you shouldn’t be eligible for citizenship based on time spent here.”

The pro-reform ralliers told a different story, suggesting reform would be a boon for the economy.

“(Reform) will be a boost to the economy,” said Edgar Garcia, 30, who was passing out signs for protesters to wave. “Right now you have unscrupulous companies hiring immigrants for construction and saying they are contractors. This way they get their licenses, their wages go up, they pay more in taxes and the whole community benefits.”

Frank Tapia, 20, said he and his three siblings are U.S. citizens, but both of his parents are in the country without legal residency. Despite previous failures to pass immigration reform, most recently in 2007, Tapia was confident that momentum was in favor of reform.

“It’s not that I think about my parents' situation every day, but it sure would be nice to not have to worry about my whole family being separated from each other,” he said. “It hits close to home.”

Maria Espinosa, who has been a local champion of immigration reform for years, said she has spent three weekends gathering signed petitions advocating for passage of the bill and for the government to focus deportations on “criminals.” So far, she had collected 1,500 petitions.

More than 20 organizations participated in organizing the event, including the AFL-CIO of Nevada, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Dream Big Vegas, Culinary Union 226, SEIU Nevada, Mi Familia Vota, and many other labor, progressive and Hispanic community organizations.

Law enforcement on hand at the rally did not provide a crowd count, and a tally of protesters was not available. The crowd easily surpassed 1,000, and during the march, a column of people stretched down Las Vegas Boulevard from Bridger Avenue to Charleston Boulevard.

The march culminated at St. Louis Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, where more speakers advocated for reform and participants were asked to sign “action cards” to log their presence at the march.

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  1. immigrants yes, Criminal invaders NO!!!

  2. FIGHT BACK!....................................SUPPORT NUMBERSUSA!

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  3. What a crock! My grandparents (both sides) emigrated to the USA in the early 1900s and were "owed" nothing. And that's the way it ought to be! They had to fend for themselves! And that's the way it ought to be! There were no "English as a 2nd language" classes. They had to learn on their own. And that's the way it ought to be! Enough of the apcray that we owe anyone coming here welfare, food stamps and housing subsidies. Once, it was mandatory that to be eligible to come to the USA, you had to prove you could support yourself. And that's the way it still ought to be! I, and millions more like me, don't want to support lawbreakers in any way, shape or form. And that's the way it ought to be!

  4. The #timeisnow. The #dreamisnow. Our community is weeping for comprehensive immigration reform. Our students, the dreamers, want opportunity. We are Americans. We have enough and to spare. We want fairness for our friends, families, and neighors. Justice.

  5. THEY owe US. They keep stealing from us and YOU ENABLE IT. ENFORCE our laws retroactively. Our economy and culture cannot recover without immediate decisive ACTION. SECURE the borders. Get that database of foreigners in the U.S. Stop letting in every yahoo that says s/he wants to be a student. Locate and expel/deport the ghost "students" here on visas but never attending--is it not enough that we pay for the universities? Expel the 7 million illegals in stolen American jobs because employers are not held accountable--ENFORCE our laws. Do NOT issue millions upon millions of work permits. How will Americans, long term unemployed, find work even minimum wage work. Sure we need a few thousand MIGRANT TEMPORARY workers without ability to "pass on" birth-right citizenship for AGRICULTURAL WORK--but we're more mechanized and we do NOT need hordes of pickers. Millions upon millions stealing K-12 education, higher ed, food, shelter, clothing, medical care. DEPORT the repeat dialysis thieves who get their health care at UMC. If they don't want to take their anchor babies with them, put them up for adoption--so we can stop importing Russian children who are unadoptable for medical and other reasons.

  6. Anyone here believe the hype that illegals won't get WELFARE? They're already getting unquestioned EBT SNAP food stamps. The large households get free LIHEA utilities while American seniors are cold and hungry--the same seniors are told to not come back to our food banks (non profits w/government funding) while illegals get repeat "emergency" food claiming the kids have no SSN's--so they can't be tracked back to their welfare benefits. Medicaid CHIP is already inundated with anchor babies and illegals. Sure, the idea is that those who are able to support themselves in worthwhile productive work might be tolerable but they just won't do it. You think Obama won't insist the federal agencies ignore the law restricting welfare--they're already REFUSING TO enforce our laws and handing out food stamps via Mexican embassies.

  7. Legal immigrants (except political refugees like terrorists) are supposed to NOT get welfare for 5 years. So we force benefits upon illegals. HOW SICK. If these hordes of unskilled workers are so work oriented, why can't they make a go of it back home? Why can't they build their country's economy? Instead, they steal ours and what our grandparents worked through Depressions to build. How low can our standard of living go to pay for all the indigents who want to live here?

  8. Harry owes us an explanation and a RESIGNATION.

  9. "Permanent Solution" for illegal Aliens...

    Is a "Final Solution" for unemployed Americans

  10. This event was widely promoted for weeks, well over a month's time. Thousands of people turned out in support of it and 1-12 people (depends who's quoting) turned out to demonstrate against it. Math done. Let's move forward now.

  11. Reid is disgusting!

  12. I have a permanent solution, get the @#$% out. All the illegals don't have any rights in this country so why are we giving them any? Go back to your homeland and when you're ready to to return legally you may do so, but don't come into this country crying about how you are treated if you came here by sneaking your way in. Apply for citizenship, take the classes, LEARN TO SPEAK ENGLISH, and already have a job lined up whaen you get here, now there's a solution.

  13. Funny, isn't it, as Obama pressures for Congressional legislation the feds are spinning the "employment" numbers pretending we're on the rebound. More than 7 million illegals in stolen jobs. Illegals did most of the $70,000-plus construction jobs while baby Mamas run from food bank to non-profit handouts to Welfare agencies for the little anchor babies and illegal kids using fraudulent birth certificates.

  14. Maikeru 5:44: teachers are a "special" class. They just don't seem to know the value of a dollar since their income is essentially guaranteed for very part-time work. Sure there are good teachers but we're carrying a lot of freight on the non-performing teachers. Just out-of-touch when they can't relate to AMERICAN struggles but want to give away yours and mine (but not hers cause she expects the taxpayer to keep raising her salary) so dreamers can have our NIGHTMARE. We do NOT have anything extra to handout to 15-20 million illegals (ICE data, several years old). American seniors / retirees are finding out how difficult it is to put food on the table especially since our government programs prioritize the invading kids over American citizens. Let's see Obama cut the illegals off the welfare programs BEFORE LEGISLATION. We might consider a few hundred thousand TEMPORARY AGRICULTURE workers with work permits that do not pass on birth-right citizenship--since foreigners do not have American citizenship to confer upon their kids. As I seem to have to restate for those with short attention spans, my personal financial situation is just fine. But I tire of seeing seniors hurting so badly--and they never expected it. They thought they'd get SS and some help. $16 a month in EBT SNAP just doesn't help 'em much.

  15. Let's have reform. Let's DEPORT THEM ALL. Enforce OUR laws.

  16. The AMERICAN people have said NO to immigration changes in 2007 and 2010. Congress is NOT LISTENING to constituents but keep bringing up FAILED proposals. Dump any turkey who supports stupidity.