The Mexican flag flew beside the American flag in Mesa on Saturday as an estimated 2,000 Hispanics pledged to boycott gasoline for two days in support of immigration reform.
Immigrants without Borders, organizers of the boycott rally, asked all Arizonans not to buy gasoline Saturday and today to show the enormous purchasing power of Hispanics.
"It is an action to motivate people to do something," said the group’s executive director Elias Burmudez. "We have the right to protest. It’s something to show that we are necessary."
In the parking lot at Pioneer Park, the message was painted on car windows with the word "gas" crossed out.
The 3 p.m. rally, with about a dozen musical acts and several speakers, all in Spanish, drew Hispanic families from Mesa neighborhoods and from around the Valley.
The party lasted late into the night.
The chorus to a rousing rendition of "La Bamba" was soon replaced with the words "Si se puede," or "Yes we can."
"We want the undocumented out here. Step up to the plate. We’re searching for a solution to benefit you. Please come and show your face," Burmudez urged. "We are opposed to any legislation that treats us as unwanted persons."
The Arizona Legislature this year passed a handful of bills that targeted illegal immigrants.
Most of those were vetoed by Gov. Janet Napolitano but are expected to resurface next year.
Guillermma Ramirez, 34, of Mesa, came to show support for immigration reform. She is here legally, but many of her friends and family are not.
"I’ve lived here for 13 years. I don’t support the anti-immigration laws and I’m not going to buy gas for two days to show that," Ramirez said in an interview translated from Spanish.
The Mesa rally came a day after more than 200 supporters of the Minuteman Project gathered at the state Capitol in Phoenix to demand tougher immigration enforcement.
For nearly two hours, Minuteman leaders told the crowd they are moving ahead with plans for more civilian patrols along the Mexico border from California to Texas. Some of protesters at the Mesa rally were part of a counterdemonstration Friday at the Capitol, chanting at the Minuteman supporters from behind a line of police officers.