Seven years after their "Great American Boycott" put the immigrant rights movement on the map, advocates are expecting smaller Bay Area crowds this year for immigration reform marches marking the first day of May.

Immigrants and their allies and family members plan to march Wednesday through San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Mountain View and other cities around the state and country.

"We want an immigration reform," said Angel Santuario, an organizer for Peninsula Interfaith Action, but he said many activists are wary that some of the proposals being developed by members of Congress are "going the wrong way."

Santuario was among thousands of Latino protesters who avoided working or shopping and marched through the streets of Mountain View on May 1, 2006, a day when historic immigration rallies happened in big and small cities across the nation. On Wednesday, he hopes for an equal or even bigger crowd now that immigration is on the agenda again in Congress.

Other activists, however, said turnout is unlikely to top the marches of 2006 and 2007. After years of political defeat, some seasoned advocates have shifted their focus from marches to direct lobbying of lawmakers.

And while this year is politically different, with leading Republicans on board with a path to citizenship for many of the nation's 11 million people living in the country illegally, local advocates said it can be hard to rally immigrants to skip work for a cause that sounds similar to others that have failed before.


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Some who marched seven years ago are not here anymore. Nearly 2.5 million people have been deported from the United States since 2006, according to federal statistics.

MAY DAY EVENTS
Immigration reform advocates will march and rally Wednesday in the East Bay and South Bay.
Oakland: 3 p.m. rally at Fruitvale Plaza (near BART); 4 p.m. march to rally at Mi Pueblo, 5 p.m. continue march to Josie de la Cruz Park; 6 p.m. closing rally at the park.
San Jose: Noon to 3 p.m. immigration issues teach-in at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 2020 E. San Antonio Street, march at 4 p.m. to San Jose City Hall for a rally.
Mountain View: 4 p.m. marchers leave Rengstorff Park to 6 p.m. rally at the Civic Center plaza, 500 Castro St.