Over the last several years, May Day rallies in the United States have been dominated by activists pushing for a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally. But since 2006, when hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across America, the rallies have gotten smaller, less focused and increasingly splintered by any number of groups with a cause.
In New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., May Day protests were dominated by Occupy Wall Street activists, a sign of how far the immigration reform movement has fallen off the radar, unable to compete with the weak economy.
Immigration activists say they are not worried about decreasing numbers at rallies because their focus the last few years has been more on getting eligible immigrants to become U.S. citizens and vote.
And yet activists acknowledge the threat to illegal immigrants may be stronger than ever with the U.S. Supreme Court considering Arizona’s tough, controversial crackdown.
As years have turned to decades, immigration activists have had to accept the reality that it could be a long time before Congress deals with the issue.
Meanwhile, for illegal immigrants, daily life has gotten harder. Deportations under Obama have gone up sharply. The annual average since 2009 is around 400,000, about 30 percent higher than under President George W. Bush, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
There are also strong indications that fewer immigrants are trying to come to America, and others have gone home.