LatinaLista — Perhaps the two most eye-catching signs at today's Dallas Mega March were:
"America is for Americans" and "Will Speak English for Citizenship."
Those signs pretty much sum up how the immigration debate has formed over the last year since Hispanics took to the streets in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago to Dallas and towns in between.
Last year's Mega March in support of undocumented immigrants in Dallas drew almost half a million people.
Indira Lagunas (left), 11, and her sister Esperanza Lagunas, 9, display an American flag during Sunday's rally.
(Source: Dallas Morning News)
With another hour to go until this North Texas rally winds down, the exact turnout number won't be known until tomorrow.
What is known is that nowhere near last year's amount showed up today. The local police spokesman is calling the crowd a "modest size," less than the 5,000 organizers are claiming are there.
Dallas' Mega March 07
(Source: Dallas Morning News blog)
But what is happening in Dallas is not unusual.
Worries were expressed a year ago within Latino communities across the country of how to sustain community momentum when it looked like criminalizing the undocumented was imminent.
Recent marches in other towns have failed to replicate what happened a year ago as well.
Why? Is it because people have lost interest or the drive to make a point to government officials about undocumented immigrants?
No. What has happened since last year are several things that are greatly impacting this year's participation at rallies:
First, a lot of the people who skipped work and marched last year are bound not to repeat that mistake. Reports surfaced after last year's rallies of workers who were either docked pay, suspended, and in some cases, even fired from their jobs for joining the marches.
Secondly, surprise ICE raids have many of the undocumented nervous and on edge. Knowing that ICE agents could be nearby the marches, fewer people are willing to risk the chance of being such easy prey for them.
Thirdly, in addition to providing a public forum about the status of undocumented immigrants, in hindsight, we are able to attribute these same marches to providing an impetus for backlash directed towards undocumented immigrants.
It wasn't until the very public marches that some of the most notorious of the city ordinances outlawing undocumented immigrants from being hired or renting housing came into effect.
And fourthly, what we have all seen is that, short of declaring war on a country, Congress lives within its own time zone â€” taking its time to deal on issues that tear the country apart.
Many people are feeling that another march, rally or boycott isn't going to make a difference and that it's now up to Congress.
And it is â€” to a point.
The only thing that could draw out people in the same numbers as last year is if Congress passes a bill that would require the self-deportation of over 12 million to comply with the new rules.
Should that happen, no one will feel intimidated or feel the need to take a wait-and-see attitude â€” because then time will be in short supply and hope will have turned into desperation.