We protest

News of the Year | May 2007

Issue: "News of the Year," Dec. 29, 2007

Organizers mobilized again for immigration rallies in the streets of major U.S. cities, but they failed to draw the same groundswell of support this year for a May 1 protest that last year drew well over 1 million. In Los Angeles 25,000 mostly Hispanics turned out where over 500,000 had come a year before. Many stayed away for fear of having their photos taken and being fingered for deportation. In the first six months of 2007 U.S. immigration officials deported 125,400-up from approximately 98,000 the previous year.

With the May 19 release of a Senate proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, members of both parties predicted that the much-anticipated legislation would pass overwhelmingly and the illegal-immigrant dilemma be solved. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, foreseeing little resistance, outlined plans for a vote before the Memorial Day recess.

But stiff criticism did not take long to surface-needing only enough time for special-interest groups and lawmakers on both left and right to read the 325-page draft. By May 21, the first day of Senate debate, the bill was under assault. At Miami's Parrot Jungle Island, Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean told immigrant supporters the reform bill was "insane" because it would require many illegal immigrants to return home before applying for citizenship: "This is a government that can't find a 6-foot-4 terrorist. How is it going to find 12 million people?"

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With both parties divided over what to do with the nation's 12 million illegals, state and local governments bearing the burden of illegals began to take action. Eleven states considered or passed measures cracking down on illegals, with Oklahoma's the toughest. Its May law denies illegal immigrants state identification and requires all state and local agencies to verify that applicants for public benefits are American citizens. Hispanic evangelical churches in the state said they lost over 10 percent of their membership after the law passed-underscoring the dilemma and the divide for church groups and politicians when it comes to actually cracking down on illegals.

Also in May ...

Nicolas Sarkozy prevailed over Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal in a May 6 runoff to succeed Jacques Chirac as president of France. Sarkozy ran on a platform to restore law and order and revitalize the French economy. But when he announced pension and work-week reforms, rail workers, school workers, and university students joined a strike that crippled transportation and other services in November. About 30 percent of France's 2.5 million state civil servants, including 40 percent of teachers and 10 percent of hospital workers, went on strike. "We won't give in. We won't step back," Sarkozy said.

A Portuguese holiday turned into a nightmare for a British couple when 3-year-old daughter Madeleine McCann disappeared. Just shy of her fourth birthday, "Maddy," as she became known worldwide, was sleeping with her 2-year-old twin siblings in a ground-floor resort apartment while her parents dined with friends about 120 yards away, when she was apparently abducted May 3. An international girl-hunt ensued, with sightings of the doe-eyed, round-faced preschooler reported in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco. A prominent coloboma, or slit in her right iris, became a global tracking mark. At one point parents Gerry, a cardiologist, and Kate, a part-time general practice physician, were suspects in her disappearance. But a private investigator announced in December that he knows who her kidnappers are, a suspected pedophile ring, and vowed that the missing girl could be back with her parents by Christmas.

U.S. health officials quarantined attorney Andrew Speaker after he knowingly exposed passengers on two trans-Atlantic flights to tuberculosis-the first health quarantine since 1963. Speaker, 31, underwent surgery July 17 to remove the diseased portion of his right lung.


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