Protesters rally for immigrants

The Associated Press

By Wesley Deberry

The corner of Neil and Green streets is quiet at 10:15 a.m., aside from the sounds of daily traffic. In a matter of 45 minutes, the corner filled with protesters armed with loudspeakers, Mexican flags, bottles filled with popcorn kernels and signs that read “si se puede” (yes we can).

Under the watchful eye of a police escort the protestors marched down Green Street shouting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people cuz the power of the people don’t stop.”

The protesters marched as part of a nationwide effort to reform refugee and immigrant rights.

Recently, federal agents stormed Little Village Discount, in the prominently Latino Southwest Side of Chicago, and arrested 12 people who were allegedly selling fake identification papers to workers. Also, raids were recently executed on a meat packing plant in Beardstown, Ill., where roughly 100 illegal immigrants were apprehended.

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The force that was used in these raids has outraged members of the Latino-American community.

“It’s unacceptable because people are being arrested at their jobs and persecuted like criminals when they have done nothing wrong,” said Erendira Rendon, organizer, junior in LAS and member of La Colectiva, an RSO whose objective is to inform the community about issues concerning the Latino population.

In front of a large crowd, fellow protester Sonia Rodriguez, sophomore in LAS, read off a list of demands for both the University and the United States government.

“We demand an immediate stop on all immigration raids and deportation that are terrorizing hardworking immigrants,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and protesters continued demanding that no families become separated due to the broken immigration system and no child be denied the right to stay with their parents in the United States.

Rodriguez also insisted that Congress must speed up the process to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

From the University, Rodriguez and protesters demanded that the privacy rights of all undocumented students and employees be protected, and that the University declares itself a sanctuary for all immigrant and refugees.

University Chancellor Richard Herman made an unexpected visit to the rally and admitted that there are undocumented students at the University.

“Those who have come from the outside have served this country and this University well in the past and will continue to do so in the future,” Herman said.

Tuesday’s protest ended with a chant lead by Jose Laluz, an activist who traveled from New York to attend the Champaign rally.

“I am a human being, I am a human being,” Laluz said as the crowd repeated his words.

Laluz said that meetings will occur all around the country this weekend to establish the next course of action.

For La Colectiva, they will continue to work in conjunction with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refuge Rights to ensure that the government is doing everything in their power on the state level to ensure the rights of immigrants.