NEW YORK – Thousands of immigrant rights supporters formed a line stretching more than a mile long Saturday as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, waving flags from more than a dozen countries as they demonstrated against possible immigration reform in Congress.
Heralded by a cacophony of trumpets, whistles and drums, the crowd of mostly Latin Americans gathered in downtown Brooklyn and trudged a path laden with symbols of the city’s immigrant strength on their way to a plaza in lower Manhattan.
The marchers mustered in a neighborhood settled by the Dutch, crossed a bridge designed by a German, and finished in a square at the edge of Chinatown in an area that once held the Irish slums depicted in the 2002 film “Gangs of New York.”
On the way, they passed the Statue of Liberty, hot dog carts run by Middle Easterners, taxis driven by Russians and police officers speaking Chinese.
More than 10,000 people flooded Foley Square, turning it into a sea of colorful banners and echoing noise.
“If you hurt immigrants you are hurting America,” read a sign held by one marcher. Others read “We are your economy” and “I cleaned up ground zero.”
There were demonstrations across the country in the past week against legislation already approved in the House, which would make it a felony to be in the United States without the proper immigration paperwork.
Competing legislation under consideration in the Senate would take an opposite approach and give the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States a chance at citizenship.
In Costa Mesa, Calif., more than 1,000 people protested the crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Last year, the Costa Mesa City Council approved a policy that would give local police in certain cases the authority to enforce federal immigration law. The plan, which would be the first in the nation, still must be approved by federal officials.
In Oklahoma City, more than 5,000 people jammed into the Capitol’s south plaza to protest proposals in the Legislature designed to stop illegal immigrants from receiving tax-supported services, such as Medicaid and food stamps, and require state employees to report suspected illegal aliens.