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Marchers Take to the Streets in Dallas, Fort Worth

By Bill Zeeble, KERA reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: Since last week's spontaneous walkouts by thousands of students around North Texas, The League of United Latin American Citizens has stepped in. LULAC is organizing Hispanic students and their families who are worried that federal legislation could make felons of illegal immigrants and those who help them. The other night, a dozen or so students, like Creza Martinez, were busy at an Oak Cliff Lulac office making protest posters for the march on Sunday, so they won't miss school again. Some of Martinez's relatives are here illegally. In Dallas she says, thousands of families are in similar situations

Creza Martinez: They leave everything behind - home, country, mom dad, to come and work to provide a better life for their kids. We're a product of their sacrifice. We're all here to tell our families they're not alone, and they raised aware children.

Zeeble: Martinez - who helped organize this effort - is working on her poster with lines off the Statue of Liberty - GIVE ME YOUR TIRED YOUR POOR.

Martinez: It's like our beacon of freedom, it represents liberty and rights and I think it's a good slogan for our march this Sunday

Zeeble: Organizers have agreed to carry U.S. flags only. 16 year-old high school student Gustavo Jimenez, last week's student march organizer, says it was a mistake to show flags from other countries.

Gustavo Jimenez: It was just bad organization, we did it overnight. And I understand myself, I didn't realize is , yes we did the wrong thing, foreign country, Mexican flags, Salvadoran, it was kind of my fault, I did kind of mess up on that, we should be waving American flags.

Zeeble: For Jean Towell, president of Citizens for Immigration Reform, that won't be enough. The flag controversy offended her. In her north Dallas home, with its American flag on the front lawn, she sounds like Martinez, when she says she's committed to American freedom, liberty and rights. But they belong, she says, to citizens. And legal immigrants.

Jean Towell, president, Citizens for Immigration Reform: ...want them to play by the rules. They Come in legally? Welcome. Not a problem. They're breaking the law. We're a nation supposedly ruled by the rule of law

Zeeble: Towell has organized a counter protest to Sunday's mega march, scheduled for tomorrow at 11, near Walnut Hill & Central Expressway, in Dallas . She's worried that undocumented immigrants cost taxpayers millions for education and health care. They don't pay taxes she says, because they're paid under the table, & take jobs that should go to citizens. Towell shares worries that some families could be split if illegal immigrants were labeled as felons. But she stands firm

Towell: They made a choice to come here and either bring their kids or have them on American soil. That's their decision. You must pay for the consequences of decisions one makes.

Zeeble: Towell reiterates she wants current laws enforced the ones that would've kept the 11 million or so illegal immigrants out of the U.S. in the first place. Former state representative Domingo Garca, now with Lulac, believes some of those laws are ripe for a change

Domingo Garcia, LULAC: Hundred years ago it was illegal for women to vote - it was the law. Fifty years ago it was illegal for Blacks to sit in the front of the bus or to drink from a water fountain. That was the law. When we have unjust laws, just' people have a right to change those laws.

Zeeble: Lulac says 20 thousand people or more could attend Sunday afternoon's march. Towell says she's expecting several hundred tomorrow, but has no way of knowing. The Fort Worth march, backed by the major Hispanic organizations there, is set for 12:30 at the city's courthouse. For KERA 90.1 I'm Bill Zeeble.
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