Eye On Boise

Immigration rally, march in Boise draws more than 700 participants

Virgilio Medina, of Nampa, Idaho, holds an American flag as he marches towards the Idaho Statehouse during the Family Unity Rally in support of immigrant rights, Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Boise, Idaho. (AP/Idaho Press-Tribune / Greg Kreller)
Virgilio Medina, of Nampa, Idaho, holds an American flag as he marches towards the Idaho Statehouse during the Family Unity Rally in support of immigrant rights, Wednesday May 1, 2013 in Boise, Idaho. (AP/Idaho Press-Tribune / Greg Kreller)

Two themes — keeping families together and giving immigrants equal access to work, benefits and school — dominated a rally and march Wednesday in Boise, where more than 700 demonstrators urged lawmakers to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and system, the Associated Press reports. Demonstrators, waving American flags and placards and wearing red, white and blue T-shirts, chanted pro-immigration slogans and called out in unison during the march "Si se puede," Spanish for "yes we can." Some carried signs with messages such as "No human being is illegal" or signed petitions addressed to Idaho's congressional lawmakers, urging them to get behind changes to federal immigration laws; click below for a full report from AP reporter Hannah Furfaro.

Immigration activists rally, march in Boise
By HANNAH FURFARO, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two themes — keeping families together and giving immigrants equal access to work, benefits and school — dominated a rally Wednesday in Boise, where more than 700 demonstrators urged lawmakers overhaul the nation's immigration laws and system.

Idahoans from across the state, along with activists from eastern Oregon, gathered at a Boise park south of downtown then marched down Capitol Boulevard and to the Capitol Mall, joining the thousands of people across the nation who turned out for the annual May Day rally.

Demonstrators, waving American flags and placards and sporting red, white and blue T-shirts, chanted pro-immigration slogans and called out in unison during the march "Si se puede," Spanish for "yes we can."

Some carried signs with messages such as "No human being is illegal" or signed petitions addressed to Idaho's congressional lawmakers, urging them to get behind changes to federal immigration laws.

Maria Cuevas, 23, of Nampa, brought her two children to the rally. Cuevas has been in the United States since she was just two, and admits it's hard to have people ask her whether she's an immigrant — or if she was born into U.S. citizenship. Her children were born here and are citizens; now, Cuevas, who obtained her visa because of changes brought about by the Violence Against Women Act, says she wants that for herself, too.

"I wasn't born here, but I want to have the same things as everyone else," said Cuevas.

The march in Boise came as Congress is considering a legislative package that would provide a path to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally.

Now, immigrant advocacy groups are focusing heavily on calling and writing members of Congress, using social media and other technology to target specific lawmakers.

Lesley Yang, 24, and a Boise State University senior studying sociology, said certain immigration laws on the books now tend to criminalize people who are simply hoping to reunite with their families.

Deportation and preventing paths to citizenship have created unfair barriers for people just looking for a better life, she said.

"Both my parents are refugees so immigration is very near and dear to me heart, and I think often times we don't realize (immigration laws) can be very racist and biased and we tend to criminalize people who come over here," she said.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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