Immigrant groups in Philadelphia observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a march. The groups convened to protest immigration laws passed by several states that they call too harsh.
Marchers, primarily representatives of the city’s Latino and Cambodian communities, gathered first in a church near Philadelphia City Hall.
Speakers said the tough laws often enable police to check immigration status during routine traffic stops, and when children enroll in school. These measures infringe on the civil rights of immigrants, they claimed.
Sokhom Touch, a Cambodian with a green card, said he wants people to understand that such laws verge on harassment of legal immigrants.
“As long as nobody’s fighting against it or saying we don’t want these laws, there’s no awareness,” he said. “All these laws will just keep getting passed and then we will have to deal with it afterwards, like Alabama was.”
Touch traveled to Alabama at the end of last year with a group from Pennsylvania to attend a rally against the legislation. He said he thought the cause followed in the footsteps of Dr. King.
“So I guess that was just the best place to really start, to start the awareness there because if that’s the birthplace then we should carry on his torch,” he said.
He worries laws similar to Alabama’s will be pushed in Pennsylvania.