Two days earlier California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border as part of Operation Jump Start. Thats the White House plan, backed by Congress, to deploy Guard troops to the border to make it easier for immigration cops to police the frontier with Mexico.
The 200-strong protest, called on short notice, began with a rally at Larson Park. About 20 Minutemen, an anti-immigrant group that patrols the border to stop working people from crossing into the United States, organized a counterdemonstration.
These folks called the Minutemen have a historical origin. They are the Ku Klux Klan, said Nativo López, a leader of the Los Angeles-based March 25 Coalition. López is also the national director of Hermandad Mexicana and president of the Mexican American Political Association. These groups have been among the main forces that organized huge marches for immigrant rights in Los Angeles earlier this year. The March 25 Coalition sent a couple of carloads of people to participate in the June 3 action.
Chanting, Yes to workers, no to the border, and We didnt cross the border, the border crossed us, the marchers were greeted with smiles and winks from workers entering the United States.
Angeles Del Desierto, a group of volunteers that rescues immigrants in the desert and mountainous region of the border, set up a booth at the rally site. Rafael Hernández, the organizations director, participated along with his family and brought along the groups bright red paramedic truck. I started about eight years ago because I saw an urgent need, he said. This work is very dangerous, but there are about 40 members of the group. We provide food, water, clothing, and emergency aid to people found in extreme conditions.
Laura Larraenza, another member of the group, said there has been a dramatic increase in the number of deportations recently. From Las Vegas, Sacramento, Fresno, and here in San Diego almost 2,000 people have been deported, she said. These include families, a little girl being deported with her mom, handcuffed together. They also include legal residents who were forced by la migra to sign papers for their deportation.
The Si Se Puede Coalition is now planning educational forums. The first one is in Chula Vista, but we will be doing them throughout the city on a regular basis to empower people to understand the upcoming legislation for what it isan attempt to maintain a source of cheap labor, said Elva Salinas, a San Diego City College professor and member of the group.
Salinas was referring to the recent immigration bill passed by the U.S. Senate. The measure would tighten border security, provide for a guest worker program, allow many of the 12 million undocumented in the United States to apply for residency after working for six years as temporaries and meeting a host of other strict conditions, and orders some 2 million immigrant workers deported.
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