In case anyone needed to be reminded what an anachronism the term "minority" has become, thousands of pro-immigration marchers provided it on Sunday in three words: "We Are America." While Boise's 5,000-people-or-so rally was small in comparison to similar marches in larger cities--Dallas, according to the Washington Post, drew over 500,000 participants--it still packed downtown from the river to the Statehouse with American flags and people who were eager to wave them.
"We're here to let the United States know we are not half-Mexican and half-American," said Adan Ramirez, board member of the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN), the group that organized the rally. "We are 100 percent Mexican. And 100 percent American."
Ramirez and others spoke--often in Spanish--at the Julia Davis Park band shell before leading a slow procession to the Idaho Statehouse. At both locations, speakers criticized actions recently taken by the U.S. House of Representatives, who passed a resolution in December that would declare illegal immigrants felons and would build hundreds of miles of new fence along the United States' southern border. They were slightly more receptive to a guest-worker bill currently being battled over in the Senate, but Ramirez said, "The bill offers legal status to some with one hand, but with the other hand it closes off citizenship for many and tramples civil rights for all."
But many marchers said the point of the rally wasn't to choose one bill over another, but to draw attention to a dire need for comprehensive immigration reform from a crucial but under recognized part of the populace.
"Immigration is an American experience, and acceptance is an American value" said Micaela Montano, an ICAN youth member from Burley who attended at the event. "Americans are returning to these values by asking for comphrehensive immigration reform. We need our elected officials to catch up with the rest of the country."