Residents demonstrate for immigrant rights

A boy rides on a marcher’s shoulders waving an American flag as hundreds of participants in a rally walk north on Mitchell Street Monday morning. The marchers walked in a show of support for immigration reform. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The honking car horns could be heard for blocks, as a sea of white flowed through the streets of downtown Clovis on Monday morning. Hundreds of residents, wearing white to symbolize peace, marched in support of immigration reform.

The group primarily waved American flags, but a few proudly flourished the green, red and white Mexican flag of their homeland.

Marcher Norma Nanez said she didn’t understand why the Mexican flag made some uncomfortable. “They (immigrants) are proud to be Americans,” she said, “but the Mexican flag is a symbol of their heritage.” Nanez said everyone should be allowed to fly the flag of their choice.

Other ralliers carried signs reading “community means unity” and “we are all equal.”

Parade organizer Andrea Armendariz said the messages on the signs summed up the main reason for the demonstration. “We should all be united regardless of background,” she said.

Parade participant Bill Gonzales of Clovis can trace his ancestor’s roots in the United States to 1846. He said the United States’ history is rich with immigrants. “This country was built by immigrants who came to the United States for a better opportunity,” Gonzales said.

He said he was marching in support of immigrants attaining citizenship regardless of the length of time they have worked in this country. “I don’t care if they (immigrants) have been here one year or 10 years,” he said, “because they work hard and deserve to be in the U.S.”

Armendariz said the rally was personal to her because two of her four children were born in Mexico. Herself born in the United States, she said she is offended her daughters were not offered dual citizenship. “I was born and raised in the U.S.,” she said, “but I can’t even claim them (Mexico-born children) on my taxes.”

According to Armendariz, her children would be required to pay $300 to apply for citizenship. “Why should I have to pay this?” she said. “I’m a citizen and my children deserve to be citizens too.”

Armendariz said she was marching against House Bill HR4437, which would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the legislation passes, undocumented immigrants would be considered felons and their families and supporters could be charged with “aiding and abetting a felon.”

“I don’t want it (HR4437) to pass,” Armendariz said, “because it would make me a criminal and that is just wrong.”

Parade coordinators said between 600 and 700 people showed up to march. “I am pleased and amazed at the good turnout,” Armendariz said.