A major demonstration in Chicago on March 10, 2006 estimated at 100,000 people was the initial impetus for protests throughout the country. The largest single demonstration occurred in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006 with a march of more than 500,000 people through downtown. The largest nationwide day of protest occurred on April 10, 2006, in 102 cities across the country, with 350,000–500,000 in Dallas and around 300,000 in Chicago. Most of the protests were peaceful and attracted considerable media attention.
Then on May Day 2006:
An estimated 400,000 marched in Chicago, according to police, though organizers pegged the total at closer to 700,000; ... An estimated 400,000 marched in Los Angeles, according to police.
Well, that kind of humongous turnout (large driven by funny Spanish-language drive time radio DJs) has never been repeated. From today's Los Angeles Times:
Two sets of marchers converged on the Civic Center in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon in what police described as a peaceful and modestly sized crowd compared to previous years.
By JULIA PRESTON
Published: May 1, 2013
Tens of thousands of immigrants, Latinos and other supporters of an overhaul of the immigration system turned out on Wednesday to mark May 1 with marches, rallies and prayer vigils, hoping to show Congress that momentum is building in favor of a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
First, some excuses:
Instead of concentrating their forces for one large demonstration on May Day, the immigrant and labor groups organizing the events said they chose to hold smaller actions in more than 100 cities to draw more local supporters. ...
Many immigrants who support overhaul legislation now before the Senate do not have legal immigration status, so they cannot travel easily across state lines and they think twice about turning out in public. ...
Now, some reporting.
In Richmond, Va., about 150 people had a minirally and then marched to the headquarters of the Republican Party, chanting, “Yes, we can” in English and Spanish. In an impromptu speech, Jaime Contreras, vice president for Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, told Republicans, “There’s no honor in being on the wrong side of history as the last stronghold fighting against civil rights.”
150 people? Okay, well that was Virginia. What about in the Southwest?
In Tucson, 250 people turned out for a morning march in desert heat, accompanied by indigenous dancers and Mexican music. The marchers said the prospect of immigration action in Washington had created an upbeat mood in southern Arizona.
“There is hope for everyone," said Rosalva Fuentes, 43, an immigrant from Mexico who lives in Tucson. “Ten years ago people were so scared.. Now we fight for equality.”
Tomás Rodríguez, 41, said he had lived in Tucson for two decades without immigration papers, working in construction. Mr. Rodríguez, who attended with his 17-year-old daughter, Stephanie, a United States citizen, said he was not afraid to join the march. ..
Leading organizers of the May 1 events included the Service Employees International Union and other labor unions; Mi Familia Vota, a Latino voter registration organization; and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, a coalition of immigrant community groups.
250 demonstrators in Tucson? That's pathetic.
“The big strategy is to point the people power of the movement towards getting Congress to finish the job in 2013,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, one of the main organizers. “Tremendous hope and expectation has been raised in the community.”
Deepak is, what, an Aztec name? Mayan?
... Eliseo Medina, a top official of the Service Employees International Union, spent the day in what he called “our war room” at its headquarters in Washington, monitoring the activities.
“We were not particularly looking to have huge events," Mr. Medina said, "we are going for expanding.” ...
In 2006, when major immigration legislation came before Congress, many hundreds of thousands of immigrants and advocates took to the streets in cities like Los Angeles and New York.
Way back then, I attended a minor march in Van Nuys and it was still pretty gigantic even though an enormous march was going on simultaneously in downtown LA 20 miles away. But, I noticed something electorally important: the march was immense but the marchers were tiny. They weren't big Chicanos like the American-born Mexicans I'd grown up with, who all have the vote. The marchers were short immigrants; in other words, they weren't being joined by taller Mexican-American voters. And that said a lot about how much Hispanic voters care about amnesty (i.e., not too much).