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3/15: US Media Black Out Immigrant Protests
Released 23 March 2006  By Frontera NorteSur (FNS)

US Media Black Out Immigrant Protests
March 15, 2006

If you relied on the US media, you might not have noticed
the massive pro-immigrant protests held in US cities in
recent days. A survey of several leading US border and
national media outlets revealed scant or non-existent
coverage of protests against the Sensenbrenner immigration
bill, HR 4437, convened in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and
Tampa by Latinos Unidos, the Illinois Coalition for
Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sin Fronteras, and scores of
other organizations.

The dearth of coverage is striking considering the ample
doses of recent media attention on the Minutemen,
immigration legislation and the growth of the undocumented
workforce in the United States. Not surprisingly, the US
exception was the Spanish-language television giant
Univision which featured prominent stories about the
protests on its nightly newscast. A program on a Univision-
affiliated radio station in Chicago is credited for helping
promote that city's action.

To sum up: An estimated 20,000 people rallied in Washington
D.C. on Tuesday, March 7, against the provisions of the
Sensenbrenner immigration bill passed by the US House of
Representatives last December. On Friday, March 10, from
75,000 to 150,000 demonstrators-or more- held a massive
protest in the heart of Chicago against Sensenbrenner.
Local media called it the largest demonstration in the
Midwestern City since an anti-Iraq war protest in 2003.

Taking on the characteristics of a strike, businesses were
shut down and traffic was snarled for hours. Bus loads of
demonstrators arrived from surrounding communities in
Wisconsin and Indiana to participate in a march addressed
by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Chicago Mayor Richard
Daly and US Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), among
many others. "You are not criminals!" said Gov. Blagojevich
in his speech. "You are workers who love your families!"

Protestor Abigail Marquez, an immigrant from Guadalajara,
Mexico, said she was satisfied at the community response to
the convocation. "I feel happy, because this shows we are
united," Marquez said. Although US and Mexican flags were
prominent in the crowd, people from other nations joined in
the protest. Contingents from the Caribbean, Central
America, Ecuador, Colombia, Poland, Ireland, and China were
especially noted. Other forces supporting the demonstration
included labor unions, evangelical churches, the Puerto
Rican Cultural Center, and the Nation of Islam.

Besides the Washington and Chicago protests, a smaller
demonstration against the Sensenbrenner bill, but still
drawing hundreds of people, was conducted in Tampa,
Florida, on Saturday, March 11. Despite the large turn-
outs, many US English-language media outlets in the border
region initially ignored the protests. The Internet news
sites of the Laredo Morning Times, El Paso Times, Las
Cruces Sun-News and Albuquerque Tribune did not carry any
stories about the burgeoning pro-immigrant movement in the
two days following the Washington rally. Nor did the print
edition of the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico's largest
circulation daily. The publications are located in cities
with huge Mexican immigrant populations.

Tucson's Arizona Daily Star and the San Diego Union-Tribune
ran small stories from the Reuters and Associated Press
news services, respectively. Written by Karen Hawkins, the
Associated Press piece included quotes from the director of
the Illinois Minuteman Project , Rosanna Pulido, who
participated in a press conference and tiny counter-
demonstration in Chicago. Pulido said she didn't want to
Chicago become a "sanctuary city," adding that 14 million
underemployed US citizens could assume the jobs currently
done by immigrants. Another Minuteman Project member,
Carmen Mercer, was quoted by the EFE news service as saying
that 9-11 made it imperative to oppose undocumented

Although the movement kicking off last week's protests has
obvious national implications, as well as local ones in
communities across the US, the importance was missed by the
US border media outlets surveyed. The significance of the
movement wasn't lost on the Chicago Sun-Times, however,
which ran a follow-up story to last Friday's massive
march. "We've been taught a lesson by Chicago," said Martha
Ugarte, an activist in Los Angeles, California, with the
pro-immigrant movement. Ugarte said the Chicago rally was
the talk of the town in Los Angeles, where organizers are
gearing up for a similar action later this month.

According to Univision, anti-undocumented worker laws in
Arizona are also inspiring the movement. Back in the Windy
City, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee
Rights plans an event next weekend to help newly-
naturalized citizens register to vote. On the other hand,
members of the Illinois Minuteman Project and 9/11 Families
for a Secure America blasted the pro-immigrant
mobilization. Rosanna Pulido said US citizens are fed up
with the illegal immigrant population. The Minuteman
Project leader hoped that the "the outrage of the people of
Illinois is heard through voting."

For their part, Mexican border and national press outlets
gave high profile treatment to the immigrant
demonstrations. Accompanied by an article drawn from
different news wires, Mexico City's La Jornada daily
displayed a big photo of the Chicago protest on the home
page of its website, as did El Sur of Acapulco, Guerrero.
The newspaper is widely distributed in state that
contributes large numbers of migrants to the Latino
population of Chicago. El Universal, El Diario de Juarez
and enlineadirecta, an Internet news site based in
Tamaulipas state, all featured stories written by the EFE,
Notimex and the Spanish-language AP news services.

Additional sources: Univision, March 7, 10, 11, 14, 2006., March 10, 2006. Article by Fabian Santillan.
El Universal, March 11, 2006. La Jornada, March 11, 2006.
El Sur, March 11, 2006., March 11,
2006. El Diario de Juarez, March 11, 2006. Arizona Daily
Star March 11, 2006. San Diego Union-Tribune, March 11,
2006. Chicago Sun-Times, March 11 and 12, 2006. Articles by
Dave Newbart, Monifa Thomas, Oscar Avila, Antonio Olivo,
and Rick Pearson., March 10, 2006. Article
by Leticia Espinosa.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University

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