UP IN ARMS OVER WELFARE REFORM : 2,000 ATTEND RALLY TO PROTEST CUTS IN AID TO IMMIGRANTS.
About 2,000 people marched peacefully through downtown Los Angeles on Sunday to protest more restrictive federal aid laws, officials said.
As part of a bipartisan effort to reduce welfare and human services costs, President Clinton last year signed a welfare reform law that will end federal disability benefits known as Supplemental Security Income for legal immigrants.
Also, the federal government has given control of many welfare programs to the states and has ordered that no person can receive federal money for longer than five years.
The march, which was sponsored by 50 civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups, was joined by a diverse group of participants to oppose the restrictions.
Ethnic organizations, social service groups, labor unions and gay rights groups were among those taking part in the protest.
Seniors from various parts of the city traveled by foot and bus to protest the aid reductions.
Mao Chen, a 73 year-old resident of Chinatown, walked several blocks with an organized group of elders to attend the all-day festivities.
Filipino World War II veterans, many of whom have resided in the United States since the war, also attended the march.
``Most people are not aware of the effects of the welfare reform bill,'' explained Luke Williams, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, an immigrants advocacy group and a sponsor of the event.
The restrictions also affect the Food Stamp program and Medi-Cal, the federally supported medical insurance program for people with low incomes.
Williams said local churches already are doing as much as they can to provide services to the poor and it is impractical for government officials to expect them to do more.
Assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles, spoke at the rally - saying one of his proposals, AB 1197, would provide a safety net for California residents who are threatened with federal aid cuts.
PHOTO (1) Protesters hold their hands in solidarity outside City Hall during a rally Sunday to protest cuts in welfare to immigrants.
(2 -- 3) Above, state Assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles, center, and state Sen. Hilda L. Solis, D-El Monte, right, toss doves into the air outside City Hall. Left, a young man grabs a U.S. flag from an elderly Mexican woman and yells, ``this flag represents death.'' The woman stopped the man from burning the flag during the demonstration. Seniors from various parts of the city traveled by foot and bus to protest the aid reductions in the march sponsored by 50 civil rights and immigrant advocacy groups.
Michael Owen Baker/Daily News