Ralph McCloud couldn’t believe his eyes as he stood on a stage near the Fort Worth Convention Center and peered out on normally quiet streets. On Sunday, downtown streets were flooded with a sea of people marching against a pending federal immigration bill, hoping to leave an impression on politicians about the importance of drafting reasonable legislation.
Annabel Alonso, a demonstrator and freshman biology and criminal justice major, said there were people of all races protesting against the bill.
“Everyone was there for the same reason – to say that we are all united,” Alonso said. “It was an emotional event, but it wasn’t just about Hispanics.”
“They weren’t just Hispanic,” Alonso said. “There were blacks, Asians and whites there because it affects everyone who is an immigrant.”
McCloud, the secretariat for pastoral and community services of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, said he witnessed the same diversity of the group, but that he was also overwhelmed by the determination the marchers showed against the issue.
The march, which from the county courthouse to the federal building, was a silent march planned by the League of United Latin American Citizens in about two weeks, a relatively short time to develop a protest of its magnitude, McCloud said.
For All Saints pastor Esteban Jasso, the march wasn’t vengeful, but a call for a positive change.
“It wasn’t a protest,” Jasso said. “This was getting the message out about an issue in a very peaceful way.”
That message was relayed through several speeches that spoke of the reasons against the pending immigration bill.
McCloud spoke about the moral reason why there should be a compassionate and comprehensive immigration bill.
For Jasso, the speeches were a testimony to thoughts of recent immigrants.
“These people have earned the path to citizenship because they are working so hard,” Jasso said.
Jasso said he did not see the march draw any negative feedback from spectators.
McCloud said he did see outsiders responding to the march, but they were quickly dissuaded by the overwhelming number of marchers.
Jasso, who lived 28 years in South America, said the march wasn’t anti-American, but embraced America’s principles outwardly.
“People were waving American flags because they know what it stands for,” Jasso said. “They want to be a part of the American dream. They may be Hispanic, but they are Americans.”
McCloud said that while the crowd is gone, the work has not stopped.
“This was a call for people to be more involved in their communities,” McCloud said. “This is going to be a closely monitored issue.