Republicans are up in arms over President Obama's executive action on immigration -- a move that will probably spur continued angry debate over an issue that is fraught and emotional for many Americans.
But in Rancho Cucamonga on Friday, the day after Obama's controversial immigration speech, an "anti-amnesty" rally drew just six people. But they were half a dozen people with strong opinions.
Clad in American flag-print clothing or holding large flags, the group marched at a Rancho Cucamonga intersection Friday afternoon.
The group, mostly local, held signs saying “Rule of Law, not Rule of Obama,” and “No Obamamnesty.” Many expressed concern that Obama’s action, without a vote from Congress, upset the checks and balances in the government.
“It’s a slippery slope,” said Ly Kou, 46, an Ontario resident who helped plan the rally.
Kou said she's a legal immigrant from Laos and had been in the country for more than 30 years. She said Obama’s government program, which would allow as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and work legally without fear of deportation if they had children born in the U.S., adversely affects employment for citizens.
“We have millions of unemployed veterans and people," she said, "and if you add 5 million people to that, it’ll be very hard.”
The small group got a few dozen honks from passing cars at the busy intersection. A semi-truck driver pulled his horn as he cruised by, prompting smiles and cheers from the protesters. Two passengers in a red SUV screamed, “Woo!” as they rounded the corner and gave a thumbs-up to the flag-toting group, who pumped their signs and encouraged drivers to “join them,” even for a few minutes.
There were a few passersby who stopped to criticize the group, like 24-year-old Diego Huipe, who stood up off his yellow bike to talk to Kou about her “Rule of Law, not Rule of Obama” sign.
“What do you think he’s destroying?” Huipe asked. “I mean, ‘rule of law,’ what does that mean?”
“He’s not doing his job,” Kou said.
Another man shouted at the group, asking, “Where did your families come from?”
Harvey Anderson, a 62-year-old Pomona resident who carried both the American flag and a yellow flag with a snake reading, “Don’t tread on me,” said he thought Obama’s announcement was politically motivated. Anderson wore American-flag suspenders and red and blue bandannas under a large straw hat.
“He doesn’t do what’s best for America,” Anderson said. “He does what’s best for the Democratic Party.”
He said he wasn’t even optimistic about next year’s Republican-controlled Congress.
“How do you right the ship that’s sinking?” he asked.
Judi Neal, 67, said she was concerned that the country would not be able to pay for the services offered.
“We’re going to go bankrupt, all to pay for other people who don’t belong here,” the San Dimas resident said. “We’ve got to help Americans first, and then the charity begins. I have no problem with somebody seeking help in this country, but they’ve got to show they’re contributing to their community.”
About 1 p.m., the group started to disperse. Kou said the small turnout was because a larger contingent went to Las Vegas to protest Obama’s speech at a high school.
“Whether there’s one person out here waving a flag or 100 people out here waving a flag, our opinions matter,” said Neal, who was hoisting her own flag. “Each of these people here represents 200 people.”