A central Iowa city with a large Latino population was the setting for another large pro-immigrant demonstration over the weekend. While the group protested proposed federal legislation on immigration outside the Marshall County Courthouse in Marshalltown, counter-protesters held their own rally nearby. Marshalltown Police Chief Lon Walker says there were no violent incidents but there were some officers approached by citizens.
Chief Walker says “Several people were questioning the police department (about) why we’re allowing this. I think the answer is because this country allows freedom of speech on both sides. We’ve got First Amendment rights and both sides are being allowed to exercise that.”
Walker says some locals have asked him why his officers aren’t questioning the immigrants about their citizenship. Walker says “My answer is very clear that the way the federal law reads now, local law enforcement has absolutely no authority to enforce immigration law. Only federal immigration authorities can do that. So we are not allowed to ask anybody for a green card or to prove citizenship or a legal status in this country.”
A group of Marshalltown residents has formed “Latinos en Accion de CCI” which is opposing federal legislation on immigration. Sam Carbajal is the group’s spokesman and addressed the crowd. Carbajal said he wanted to show “my gratitude to the great Constitution of the United States of America that consecrates the right of freedom of speech for all human beings and to the authorities of Marshalltown who granted us permission to gather peacefully.”
Across the street from the courthouse, other Marshalltown residents were united against illegal immigration. This man did not give his name but did give his reason for being there. He says “It’s not race motivated for me at all. If I were to go and steal bread from HyVee, I would go to jail because I broke the law to feed my family. Why should they be able to cross the border and break the law to feed theirs? They’re not any different that what I am so they should follow the laws of our country too.”