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"Register Voters" is Activists' Call

An increasingly diverse group of activists concerned with HR4437 and other congressional proposals for immigration deform gathered at the Tejano Restaurant in Oak Cliff on the evening of May 15 to watch President Bush air his ideas. About 60 people attended. At least ten of them were news reporters. The Dallas Morning News reporter was one of the first to arrive and one of the most thorough in her coverage, but nothing appeared in the next days' paper.

One speaker, organizer Domingo Garcia, said that Bush's presentation made him "cautiously optimistic" because the President had said he preferred a path to citizenship rather than massive deportations. Almost all of the other speakers denounced the newest developments as well as the old ones in this ongoing fight.

One speaker talked about his parents' escape from Nazi Germany. Both he and another speaker warned that America was developing a dangerous trend. It was pointed out that Bush spoke only of one border and didn't mention ethnic groups other than Latinos. The young goatherd who was killed near El Paso by a U.S. Marine in the late 1990s came up as an example of the dangers of militarization. "It creates the opportunities... for a tragic mistake," one speaker said.

A young man with ACORN drew a great deal of applause when he talked about his own father, who immigrated illegally to the United States. "My dad built highways and picked strawberries. He always paid his taxes and never got any public services, like some of these idiots say," he said.

Among the activists, there was very little disagreement. Support for voter registration drives was unanimous. It was announced that Malone Grocery stores are requiring all their store managers to become deputy registrars, and that they will award a $10 food certificate to every successfully registered new voter. The owner of Malone's distinguished himself on May 1 by shutting down stores. LULAC civil rights leader Domingo Garcia said, "It is our goal to have every business in Dallas registering voters!"

An evangelistic minister said that 3,000 area churches support the immigrants.

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