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THE MAY DAY MARCHES

In Santa Ana, 200 protesters and a few counterprotesters show up

May 02, 2008|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

An afternoon march for immigration reform in Santa Ana drew roughly 200 participants Thursday. The group marched for an hour along a circular route through the city's downtown.

"We need legalization and education," said Virgilio Rojas, 28, who said he was marching for more rights for undocumented college students. "People always blame the immigrants but never see the positive side. We help the economy too."

Some blamed the small turnout on waning support and publicity from Spanish-language television and radio. Others attributed the decline to disappointment over the last two years' protests, which they said resulted in no policy changes.

"We're disillusioned because we're not asking for much, but we still haven't heard an answer," said Juana Ochoa, 38, who didn't hear about the march until a friend told her Thursday morning. Later that afternoon, she picked up her two sons from school and brought them to the demonstration. As she marched, she beckoned spectators inside office buildings and apartments to join in. Some of the marchers said their friends and families weren't willing to leave work to protest in a time of economic hardship.

"It's the economy," speculated Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who participated in the march. "Who's going to miss work this time around?"

Some passing motorists honked in support; others jeered the protesters.

At midmorning Thursday, a small group of anti-illegal immigration protesters briefly demonstrated outside the Mexican consulate, getting into shouting matches with passersby. But the day went off without violence or arrests, police said.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com

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