Immigration speaker sparks protest march

May 18, 2008 8:57:05 PM PDT
A protest march took place Sunday over a controversial speaker expected to go DePaul University. The guest heads up a group fighting illegal immigration.

The protest effort began on a corner in the Little Village neighborhood with an outdoor mass during which immigration activists pray for immigrants' rights. Next, participants began a long walk for solidarity from the South Side of Chicago to the city's North Side.

"As people of faith, we will walk in peace and bring a message of peace and love, and let them see that there is only one agenda that our families have, and that is to keep families together," said immigration activist Julie Santos.

The marchers' destination was DePaul University, which is where the student organization called Conservative Alliance is hosting a man named Chris Simcox Monday night. Simcox is the co-founder of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp., a group that actively tries to stop immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexican border illegally.

"For them to invite [him] on campus where an exchange of ideas welcome, it's not exchanging ideas. It's motivating people to go out there and commit hate, and that is what we are upset about," said Enrique Morones of an organization called Border Angels.

Immigrant activists led by Rev. Jose Landaverde describe the Minutemen patrols as racists, border vigilantes, a description that offends the Minutemen Illinois Dir. Rosanna Pulido.

"Here we have a religious leader teaching other people who are illegal how to stop the free speech of an American citizen, and that offends me greatly," Pulido said.

Pulido says her organization is not against immigrants, just people who break the law to come to the U.S.

Sunday's marchers say the issue is all about reuniting families and economic opportunities. Many say they believe it is unfair that the Latino community takes most the heat for the immigration debate.

"Today, there is no way for people to come here with documents who are poor, and that's inhumane. Of the 12 million people who are here illegally, half of them are not from Latin America," Morones said.

The marchers said they planned to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil once they arrived at DePaul.


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