2009/05/01:Capital Times: Crowds smaller as May Day rallies call for stronger immigrant rights - Voces de la Frontera, Immigrant Workers Union

Crowds smaller as May Day rallies call for stronger immigrant rights
The Capital Times
Associated Press  —  5/01/2009 1:48 pm

Immigration rallies in Madison and Milwaukee drew thousands of people Friday as similar May Day events were held across the country.

Organizers held the marches despite a swine flu threat that closed some Milwaukee area schools and prompted the cancellation of local Cinco de Mayo festivities this weekend. Milwaukee health officials have not called for the cancellation of large-scale events.

Milwaukee marchers walked a 2-mile route through downtown and gathered for speeches in a park.

Meanwhile, speakers at the State Capitol in Madison called for improved working and living conditions for immigrants and low-income workers.

Previous marches have drawn tens of thousands of protesters, although crowds have become smaller in recent years.

Nayeli Garcia, 19, a freshman at Marquette University, said she was disappointed because the crowd in Milwaukee was quieter than in previous years. People may be getting lazy and leaving it up to President Barack Obama to create change, she said.

Garcia, a U.S. citizen, said she was participating in the rally because she wanted immigrants to have equal access to higher education and the opportunity to make money for their families.

Manuel Espera, 46, of Milwaukee, immigrated from Mexico five or six years ago and works in a fabric factory. He said he was marching Friday because "it's a country of equality. We deserve the right to work."