DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Eleven years ago half a million people marched for immigration reform in downtown Dallas. Sunday afternoon the crowd at this year’s mega march was noticeably smaller.
Police estimated the crowd at about 4,000 people which is well below the turnout that some had predicted, but organizers said this was a success at promoting immigration reform.
Marchers made their way through downtown Dallas to City Hall where the stage was set for a rally celebrating the immigrant experience.
“We need to give every immigrant the opportunity to live the American dream. That’s why we march,” organizer Domingo Garcia told the crowd from the stage.
While the number of marchers paled in comparison to 2006, Garcia said he was not disappointed in the turnout.
“Oh no. This is one of the largest marches, civil rights marches in Dallas history, and while we try to compare to 2006, it is a different era right now, and we still got the message out,” Garcia said after the rally.
Helping to spread that message of immigration reform was civil rights leader Martin Luther King III.
“So we’ve come here today to march against a national agenda that would turn back the clock on our nation’s great tradition of values,” King told the crowd from the stage.
King told CBS 11 he believes most people would embrace responsible reforms, even the vetting of immigrants.
“But it just seems like we’ve chosen a disruptive way of implementing an immigration plan, and there’s got to be a better way, and I think that’s what the people are saying,” King told CBS 11.
Organizers hope the rally will jumpstart a movement that will lead to new activism.
“This is a movement in progress. Today was just sort of the first steps that we’re taking, and it’s going to continue to grow,” Garcia said.
Security was tight throughout the event, and a city spokesperson said by the end they had no arrests or incidents to report.