LOS ANGELES – Singer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio attended a huge May Day demonstration in Los Angeles to ask that the work of immigrants in the United States be acknowledged and to express their rejection of the controversial Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants.
The well-known Cuban-American couple traveled from Las Vegas, where they had been honored last week, to Los Angeles to join thousands of people who crowded into the city’s downtown Saturday to demand that President Barack Obama’s administration overhaul the country’s immigration laws.
“We came as refugees to this country that gave us many opportunities,” Gloria Estefan said on a improvised stage set up on the back of a pickup truck.
“We join with you today so that they will know that we immigrants are honest, workers, to show the beautiful face that we bring to this country, always respecting the laws. If everyone looks back, everyone is an immigrant in this country,” the singer said.
“We don’t want to link the word ‘immigrant’ with ‘criminal,’” she said.
Emilio Estefan, meanwhile, urged those present to shout “Si, se puede!” (Yes, we can) and added that the law criminalizing illegal immigration in Arizona “has pushed a button that is going to bring unity among Hispanics more than ever.”
Along with the Estefans at the demonstration were other artists including Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, as well as Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony, who blessed the event and said that the current immigration system “sends people into the hands of the ‘coyotes’ and death,” using the term by which immigrant smugglers are commonly known.
The immigration reform that allows a regularization of the status of immigrants and their families living in the United States years ago sparked the demonstration where there were frequent mentions of the stricter nature of the recent law in Arizona.
Posters reading “Do away with Arizona’s apartheid” and “Arrest (Law) SB1070 in Arizona” could be seen at the protest along with others demanding fair treatment for the immigrant community.
“The Arizona law that was approved is one more motivation to pressure the administration, because it shows that the extremists are taking control of what should be a humane and reasonable solution,” Los Angeles County Federation of Labor secretary-treasurer Maria Elena Durazo told Efe.
It is estimated that 100,000 gathered in the central portion of Los Angeles on May Day although authorities said later that the number of participants was markedly fewer than had been expected, although they did not make public any official estimate.