`We are America’

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventChris Gallizzi, 17, a junior at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, said he and about eight to 10 friends planned to join the Los Angeles rally. “I’m going because when we did the walkout, we got a lot of bad rap because some people walked out just to walk out. We want to show that we’ll sacrifice the week we have off \ to go do it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing everyone unite.” Gallizzi said the contingent of Pico Rivera students wanted to avoid a repeat of the controversy that overshadowed their walkouts two weeks ago, when students hung an upside-down American flag below a Mexican flag. “We’re taking American flags because we want to show that we do love America. And, two, to show we’re in love with the values of America, not the values of another country.” Gallizzi said he would wear a white T-shirt and bandana printed with the colors of the American flag. “You got to show that we’re here to stay,” he said. “We started our lives here and we’re not going to go back.” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he had been advised to stay out of the immigration debate. “And I say, `How dare you?’ I know where I came from,” he told the crowd. The protests seek to help an estimated 11 million immigrants who are illegally in the United States by influencing decision-making in Washington, D.C. A bill passed by the House would crack down on illegal immigrants and strengthen the U.S. border with Mexico. A broader overhaul of immigration law stalled in the Senate last week and lawmakers went on a two-week break. “I think it was wrong for them to leave Washington and not have an agreement to have a guest worker program and to make sure we secure the borders,” Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger said Monday. In Santa Ana, which is about 76 percent Latino, several hundred people marched around the federal courthouse waving American flags. Police put the crowd at about 300 people, said Sgt. Theron Reed. Many chanted, “Si, se puede \,” and carried signs that read “Legalization not deportation” and “Somos America \.” Adriana Lopez, 27, attended the rally with her two young daughters. Lopez, who immigrated illegally from Mexico 11 years ago, said she was at first afraid to attend the rally but decided it was too important to miss. “It’s important to support because we are family, and we work hard to have a better life. My two girls were born here, and we don’t want to be separated,” she said. Demonstrator Jose Perez, 55, said he was the son of immigrants and became a U.S. citizen after serving in the Vietnam War in 1971. “As citizens of this country, our parents were immigrants. And this country is founded on the principle of opening its doors to everyone,” said Perez, a registered Republican. “We’re taking note of who is really listening to the voices of their constituents, and there will be a change. “Today we march, and tomorrow we vote.” Staff writer Araceli Esparza contributed to this report.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES – Waving American flags, thousands of people marched and prayed for immigrant rights throughout California on Monday, taking part in a nationwide movement urging that millions of people living illegally in the United States be put on a path to citizenship. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony led thousands in prayer outside a downtown church Monday. Police estimated the crowd at 7,000. “We are America, a nation of immigrants seeking a better life,” said Mahony, the leader of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese. Huge throngs also gathered at the Capitol in Sacramento, and in San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno and Oakland, while small groups turned out in San Diego and Santa Ana. last_img