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May 1, 2010 at 4:26 PM

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Seattle rallies for immigration reform

Posted by Lance Dickie

Thousands of area residents rallied Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Seattle Center to cheer on the pursuit of "just and humane immigration reform." For all of the political anger and confusion stirred by Arizona's dubious new state immigration law, Seattle's 10th Annual May Day March might be closer to national change than at any time in the past decade.

Marchers started filling the stadium about 2 p.m. as they finished the route from Judkins Park. Rain that spritzed on and off before they arrived relented, so the stage in the east end zone of Leon H. Brigham Field could be uncovered. Do not fret, the field was tarped from the 36 yard line out the back of the field.

The program, which opened with a blessing by the Most Rev. Eusebio Elizondo, auxillary bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, had one central theme: comprehensive immigration reform. The legislative goal is a national solution to legal, labor and social problems that divide families and invite increasingly hostile and frantic state-by-state fixes. Tensions will only build in tough economic times without a coherent response from Congress.

Featured speakers included a video presentation by Washington Sen. Patty Murray and remarks by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, state Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos, King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember Larry Gossett and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Translation was made by Maru Mora-Villalpando, of Washington Community Action Network.

McDermott said Arizona's simply unconstitutional and deeply bad law was a wake-up for Congress to pass immigration reform. He thought lawmakers could do it this year. Santos expressed the solidarity of a daughter of an immigrant married to the son of an immigrant. Constantine and Gossett emphasized that King County - Martin Luther King County - is not Arizona. The victims of crime and parents seeking help for their sick chiildren will not be asked by local law enforcement or medical staff for their papers.
McGinn warmly welcomed the audience made up of marchers and supporters to Seattle. Many had filled buses from Tacoma, Olympia, Skagit and Everett. He said Seattle welcomes people who want to work, raise a family and give their children a future. "Let us work together," the mayor said, "for a better future.

For each speaker there was a core theme: comprehensive immigration reform at the national level is the place to start. Thousands roared their agreement.

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