Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Working on Workers’ Day: The street vendors of the May Day march

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Last Sunday's May 1 immigration march, the sixth since hundreds of thousands marched in Los Angeles and elsewhere on May 1, 2006 in support of hoped-for immigration reforms, was small in comparison to those of recent years. Some marchers still expressed optimism about a possible overhaul of the nation's immigration system; others vented over the lack of one. At one point police estimated the crowd at about 4,000 people, a far cry from five years ago.

But the small crowd this May 1, which in some countries is celebrated as International Workers' Day, didn't deter the immigrant street vendors who showed up to do what generations of immigrants have come to the United States to do, which is to make money.

They stationed themselves to the sides of the march hawking ice cream, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, fresh fruit, American flags, hats, shaved-ice raspados and bottled water to sun-parched marchers. A hot dog vendor named Lupe explained how she'd turned to street vending after being dismissed from her clothing factory job for lack of papers. "I'm here working, but I'm also supporting the march," she said.

A few of those who worked Sunday's march: