by MARK GABRISH CONLAN
Copyright © 2013 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved
Mayoral candidate David Alvarez (right)
Standing on the side of love
I am a voter
March kicks off
These people picked the wrong day to move!
March heads downtown
The size of the march as it heads downtown
Citizenship is an American value
We are human
Immigration is natural
¡Immigrantes si, dronas no!
“We’re going to preach with our feet,” said Father T.J., one of several ministers and other clergy members from the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice at the outset of a large immigrants’ rights demonstration in San Diego October 5. “We’re going to march. … We have waited so long for justice. Eleven million people are living in shadows. Only roaches should be living in shadows. We want peace, but there can be no peace without justice.”
March they did. Over 10,000 people, some bused in from other parts of San Diego and southern California, joined the protest as it started at 6th Avenue and Laurel Street in Balboa Park, took 6th to Ash Street, then headed down 5th to Broadway, went to the waterfront and reached its destination at the County Administrative Center. Two rallies were held as part of the action, a morning one at 6th and Laurel and an afternoon one at the County building.
Many of the people speaking at the morning rally compared the event to the galvanic May Day, 2006 marches for immigrants’ rights which helped derail the reactionary anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill in Congress. “In 2006 we had our last march, and I spoke with Archbishop Corleone in San Francisco,” recalled another minister, Father Henry, who said he was speaking on behalf of the local bishops. “Let our voices be heard in Washington, D.C. We want to make this nation a precious home for all.”
“It is the Jewish Sabbath,” noted Rabbi Laurie Coskey, one of the Interfaith Committee’s key organizers. “I come to you with blessings from an ancient Jewish tradition. We are all immigrants, too. My father was born in Turkey, my mother on the island of Rhodes and I in Los Angeles.”
“This is known as an immigrant country,” said a young man from Somalia who identified himself as “Sofreso” and wore a T-shirt identifying himself as a member of the self-help group Great Lakes Union for Development (GLUD). “No one has the right to push anyone out. This is a country of opportunity. GLUD was formed in 2010 because when we came to this country, we got no help. Some of us spent two days without food or drink.”
Lee Hall of the United Church of Christ’s Christian Fellowship Congregation hailed California Governor Jerry Brown for signing the Trust Act that morning. The Trust Act is designed to keep law-enforcement officers in California from cooperating with the Obama administration’s aggressive deportation program, which allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to put a 48-hour hold on any undocumented immigrant legally stopped by police or accused of a crime, however minor — a step that usually leads to the immigrant’s deportation.
Under the Trust Act, “immigrants in this country illegally would have to be charged with or convicted of a serious offense to be eligible for a 48-hour hold and transfer to U.S. immigration authorities for possible deportation,” explained reporter Patrick McGreevy for the Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-brown-immigration-20131006,0,4208269,full.story).
The Trust Act is one of several bills Governor Brown has signed to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants in California. In addition to signing a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, Brown also signed two other bills Hall mentioned: AB 1024, which allows undocumented immigrants who otherwise qualify for law licenses to become attorneys; and AB 1159, which regulates immigration attorneys so undocumented immigrants don’t become victims of fraud.
“My daughter was brutally shot nine times by a Border Patrol agent in Chula Vista, and they try to tell me that’s their training? That’s what they’re supposed to do?” said Riverside County resident Valentín Taquín, who had come to San Diego last July to tell his grim story at a rally protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. “We all commit errors and make mistakes. They made a mistake, and now they want to justify their mistake by saying my daughter deserved to die. I’m not going to believe that lie! Enough is enough!”
According to Taquín, his daughter was just one of 19 people unjustly killed by Border Patrol agents in the last three years. “Is your life better than mine?” he said. “We are all equal.”
Other speakers included Joe Leimert of the San Diego Poetry Slam Team, who read a poem denouncing the high cost of college and the outrageous student loan debts most modern-day collegians accumulate before they graduate; Eloy Hernandez of the Service Employees’ International Union; and a D.J. from Los Angeles. Both Hernandez and the D.J. spoke in Spanish only.