Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sacramento Immigrants' Rights Demonstration

Sacramento Joins Cities Throughout the Nation In Opposing Anti-Immigrant Legislation

By Dan Bacher
Over 10,000 immigrant rights activists marched in Sacramento on Monday, April 10 against legislation in the U.S. Senate that would make assisting an undocumented immigrant a felony. The marchers joined over a million marchers from other cities across the U.S. to stand firm against the racist scapegoating by the right wing for the economic problems caused by corporate globalization, outsourcing and Bush’s illegal war and occupation in Iraq.

A crowd of immigrant rights marchers from Davis and Yolo County united with activists and students, organized by the Campaign Against Unjust Immigration Laws, at Southside Park in Sacramento Monday. After a spirited rally with Azteca dancers and brief speeches from immigrants’ rights and civil rights organization activists, the marchers marched from the park to Capitol Malll, meeting another march at the State Capitol and stopping in front of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) offices on the mall.

“You’re not immigrants,” said Clifford Marshall, Jr., a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe from northern California, one of the four Klamath Basin tribes battling to remove dams on the Klamath River to restore salmon fisheries. “This is our country, this is our land. Our nations are with you, our relations.”

“It is wrong for immigrants from Europe to say that you can’t be here, especially when you have done no wrong to my people,” he emphasized. “We’re the owners of the land and our tribe doesn’t have any immigrant laws.”

CAUIL opposes HR4437, as well as the many problematic provisions in all bills currently pending in the U.S. senate. The current Senate immigration bill expands the exercise of executive power without judicial review and expands the term “aggravated felony,” a category of conduct that results in the worst immigration consequences, including banishment from this country for life and mandatory detention until you are removed.

In a draconian provision that parallels the most repressive provisions of the Patriot Act, the bill would make providing some types of assistance to undocumented friends or family members an “aggravated felony.”

The legislation also encourages local police to enforce federal immigration law by offering to reimburse all enforcement related expenses; provides for mandatory detention and expedited removal of immigrants caught between ports of entry and mandates expedited removal, without an opportunity of a hearing, of all those caught within 100 miles of the border who can't prove they have been here for more than 14 days; and gives the Executive Branch authority to indefinitely detain immigrants who can’t be deported, overturning two Supreme Court decisions that held such power unconstitutional.

“By much of the press coverage of the immigration legislation, you would think that the Senate is sponsoring some sort of pro-immigrant bill,” said Felicia Martinez of CAUIL. “But it’s clear that this is not true if you look at the Senate’s bill’s provisions.”

The organization held a press conference in front of Senator Feinstein’s office in San Francisco on Friday at 10:30 a.m., after their attempts by phone to arrange a meeting with Feinstein or a staff member were rebuffed. Spurred by a sizable press turnout, Matthew Walker of Feinstein’s staff finally agreed to meet with them, according to Fatima Castaneda of CAUIL. Fourteen people, including high school students and organizers, met with him and delivered 2,000 letters opposed to HR 4437 and other anti-immigrant bills.

They presented a cover letter, signed by Castaneda, Steve Iverson, Victor Rivera and Sara Farnsworth of the coalition, explaining the reason behind the letters.

“The enclosed hundreds of letters have been collected in Sacramento and nearby agricultural communities,” it stated. “In addition, we are giving you a stack of postcards written by students from the Sacramento City Unified School District. After being informed about the pending legislation at a high school conference, the students wrote these very heartfelt expressions of their concern for themselves and their families’ future. They will touch your heart.”

“…These students want an opportunity to become educated and continue living and working to make this a better country. We look forward to your leadership on this issue.”

The Coalition is planning a rally and March on May 1 starting in Southside Park as part of a national day of protests and walkouts against anti-immigrant legislation. For more details, contact the Campaign Against Unjust Immigration Laws, (916) 443-3424,

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