Up to several million people of Latino heritage marched in several cities of the United States on 01 May in support of immigrant workers rights. The largest was in Los Angeles with approximately 1 million in that city alone. Primarily they are from Mexico or descended from Mexicans, but many are from other Central/Latin American nations such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
These marches were a protest of treatment in the United States, but also an awareness-building event and a heritage pride demonstration. Demands were made, such as amnesty and citizenship for many illegal aliens, and better wages and working conditions for workers in the more undesirable job industries. A galvanizing event this year was the attempt by the American Congress to make it a felony crime to be in the U.S. illegally. Many people consider this unduly harsh, but appropriate by others.
While many of these people are in the United States illegally, a large segment of them are fully legal but participated in support of many of these issues.
In the wake of this protest, which extended unofficially for most of the week through the Mexican Independence Day Cinco de Mayo, a number of Americans are now making their opinions heard in opposition.
On the Mexican border a citizens group that calls itself the Minute Men patrols the deserts armed with guns to try to catch people entering the U.S. illegally. This organization has been active for several years and has named itself after the original Minute Men from the American Revolutionary War with the British in the late 1700's.
To some people, the modern day Minute Men are patriots protecting America from foreign invaders. To others, they are vigilantes that have decided to take actions that are not required by American law. They often talk in extreme language regarding their opinions about illegal aliens, although there are no documented incidents of violence at this time.
With the international news coverage generated by the Latino protests last week, the Minute Men and other anti-immigration organizations are trying to stage protest of their own and hope this is an opportunity for more publicity their views. Over the weekend approximately 500 people staged a protest at President Bush's Crawford ranch in Texas on their way to Washington DC.
This week several organizations of similar interest are organizing to take their message to Washington and, they hope, to get their message in the news.
It is an election year in the United States, so people on both sides of this issue are attempting to use it to generate support and publicity for political candidates.