They took off work, they took off school, and one of the rallies around Iowa today took place in the Quad Cities, where immigrant workers marched and waved American and Mexican flags. A long line of people came on foot from downtown Rock Island, Illinois, across the Centennial Bridge into Davenport.
One woman said she came out to show she feels Iowa is her home now. She says it’s to show they’re part of America. “We may not have been born here, but we feel like we are part of America. We work here, we want to live the American Dream.” Many marchers freely admitted that they are not legal citizens.
One said it’s time for workers to step forward and show the government how many of them are really in this country. This man was hoping legislators take notice. “We are here to demonstrate to the United States that we’re a force to reckon with,” he said. The marcher wants to show people that they’re “not here to steal, to sell drugs — we’re here to work.”
Another man marching in support of immigration reform said legislators cannot ignore the millions of illegal immigrants in this country. He says there are twelve million Hispanics and other cultures among the illegals, so he says something’s going to have to be done to “bring them into the fold.”
A large crowd of Latinos gathered in Storm Lake about three o’clock yesterday (Monday) afternoon, part of a nationwide pro-immigration demonstration. They met in front of Congressman Steve King’s office in downtown Storm Lake. Mexican native Kathia Berrigan is here legally and has lived in Storm Lake for ten years.
She says the immigrants aren’t hurting anyone, and says if more Iowans thought they should leave they’d have turned out to support her critics. “I mean, look at us,” she says, “look at these numbers.”
Jose Fuentes, who was born in California and has lived in Storm Lake the past four years, urged everyone to come together. Fuentes says they should work to stop the gangs and the drugs, adding “We all belong to Christ, we all belong to one God. God is not divided and neither are we.” Although the rally was in front of Congressman King’s office, the lights were off in the office and no one appeared to be in the building.
Several Mexican-owned businesses were closed Monday in Storm Lake in support of the immigrants, along with the Tyson pork plant. The Sara Lee turkey plant remained open. Both packing plants have large numbers of Latino workers.
A couple hundred latinos chanted, in Spanish and English, saying they’re here to work, not to cause problems. Also on hand was a small crowd of people who said they’d like to see immigration laws enforced.