PROTEST AGAINST HR 4437-Andrew Stelzer02/22/06
Controversial immigration bill House Bill 4437, passed by the house last month, is headed to the senate , and is the target of a growing number of protests around the country. Here in Tampa, More than 500 people spent the entire day at the corner of Dale Mabry an Columbus, protesting what they say is a bill further criminalizing immigrants who are hard working, law abiding citizens.
Hundreds of people, most of them Mexican born, took the day off from work, and began gathering in the early morning, in an attempt to let the public know that being in the us illegally does not make you a criminal.
ACT- â€œwe are not terrorist people were hear to work, unjust to families..â€?
People like Lee, whose been in the US for 10 years, were mainly worried about the provision of house bill 4437, which would deputize local law enforcement agents, so that they could ask people for green cards or other documents to establish that someone they pulled over is a US citizen.
ACT--Lee â€œits gonna give the cops permission to stop us, and they can send us back..â€?
H.R. 4437 was introduced by representative James Sensenbrenner, and was passed by the US House of Representatives on December 16th. The bill, would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act; among other things, 4437 would make it a felony offense to be in the U.S. without proper documentation, and would also criminalize assisting undocumented workersâ€”this could apply to teachers, clergy, union leaders, social workers and family members.
ACT-Able â€œwe come to work, we support the economy, we are not terrorists..â€?
Able, who has been in the US for 15 years, and works in construction, was one of the organizers of the rally
ACT-Able. â€œwe thought we would have 50 guys, we called the radio stations, TV, people from Venezuela, Columbia..a lot of people took the day off..â€?
RADIO STATION NOISE
News of the rally, one of the largest in recent Tampa history, was spread largely through word of mouth. Several Spanish language radio stations began broadcasting announcements Tuesday night, and then were broadcasting live updates from the rally throughout Wednesday morning. As the day wore on, people gathered from all over the Tampa bay area.
ACT-Several people, Jose Garcia has been in the US for 8 years, and Juan Jaime has been in the US for 23 years--Guillemero â€œthe police want to take my papersâ€¦it goes further that that, and it denies citizenship of immigrants that are born in this country..its gonna effect a lot of people..you wont believe the number of companies that hire these peopleâ€¦think about what it would be likeâ€¦we are illegal but we want to work, were not terroristsâ€¦â€?
HR 4437 would also require that employers check the id of all their workers, and would impose fines for an employer who was caught employing undocumented workers. To coincide with the Tampa rally, 500 people also marched in Fort Meyers in protest of 4437; some organizers there are calling for a 1-week work stoppage, to let people see the effect it would have if all illegal workers were deported.
ACT-Guillermo, been in US 12 years â€œtheyâ€™re saying there are 50 million people, they donâ€™t like people from another race..people come to work.â€?
Earlier this month, diplomats from 11 Latin American countries agreed to send lobbyists to Washington to lobby against the bill, and Mexico is a congressional delegation to lobby against the provision in the bill calling for the construction of a 700 mile fence along the U.S. Mexican border. The pew Hispanic center estimates that there are at least 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Francisco Javier Aguilar, has been in the US for 8 years, and currently works as a carpenter. He says everyone on his construction crew is Mexican, and some people came to his job site handing out flyers explaining how 4437 works and announcing the rally
ACT â€œwe coming just to workâ€¦we donâ€™t have a drivers license..the American people, American man, they dont never work, pick tomatoes, orange..â€?
4437 would also eliminate the law which allows parent of children born in the US to become US citizens them selves.
ACT-Able â€œyou got a lot of families, they live here for years, you gonna broke the whole families wife, everything..â€?
Gabriella Dialva came to the US from Mexico when she was a child, and has been is a US citizen for 25 years.
ACT- â€œI jus think itâ€™s not right. I count myself although im a us citizen, I se people work on the farms, in the sun, its not fair to take em backâ€¦we just come here to work, we just want everybody to leave us aloneâ€¦whoâ€™s gonna do the workâ€¦whos gonna work? We want to send money to our families in Mexico..â€?
Betty Dealva is from radio station 550AM la invasora, they were announcing the protest on air throughout the day.
ACT (cont) â€œwere involved because were Mexican, were not her to promote our radio station, they listen to us, they help us, we help them with our heart.
Able says that with the success of the rally, he will organize several more before 4437 can be passed into law; the senate is also considering other immigration reform bills, and will be considering those as well within the next few weeks.