Immigrant Day – 20 Years Later, California Surges Ahead



Pedro Rios speaking at Immigrant Day in Sacramento. Photo by Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez

By Pedro Rios.

Twenty years ago today, I felt a lump in my throat as I began the hour drive from San Francisco to Sacramento to join the first-ever Immigrant Day.

The anti-immigrant fervor at the time had manifested itself in frightening ways. The spirit of California’s anti-immigrant initiative from 1994, Proposition 187, had catapulted its way to Washington, D.C., fueling the backlash against newcomer communities. Immigration and welfare reforms dominated the local and national policy agendas.

We couldn’t stay silent in the face of discriminatory laws and hateful rhetoric that targeted the most vulnerable in our communities.

Occupy ICE Camps Out In Front Of Immigration And Customs Enforcement Office In San Diego

“Stop deporting workers! Stop deporting workers!,” protestors chanted outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in San Diego Yesterday.

A California janitor’s union, joined by immigration activists and workers, rallied in the plaza in front of a Federal building which houses San Diego’s ICE offices as part of a movement they call Occupy ICE or Occupy La Migra. La Migra refers to border patrol and immigration officials in Spanish.

Holding picket signs and setting up tents, protesters equated America’s corporate greed with ICE’s deportation of undocumented Latino workers.

Two weeks ago, companies employing members of the same janitorial union received audit notices for I-9 forms for all of the workers, AOL Latino reports. Sandra Diaz, one of the occupiers, told AOL Latino that the union considered this a direct attack against Latino community.

Mike Garcia, the President of Justice for Janitors, says their message is in line with Occupy Wall Street because ICE’s actions are motivated by corporate greed.

“We are fed up and tired of ICE and their rogue behavior targeting well paid immigrant jobs sites and hard working immigrant workers and families,” he said in a statement released on Thursday.

“ICE is doing what the 1% corporate real estate industry wants: using immigration laws to recycle well paid janitors in the hopes of taking back gains in pay and benefits our union has won.”

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Immigrant rights, community and labor leaders to “Occupy” San Diego Federal Building.

Media Advisory

For Thursday, November 17, 2011

Contacts: Sandra Diaz, (619) 534-2927
Christian Ramirez, (619) 885-1289
Adriana Jasso, (619) 808-7277

Immigrants and other supporters say, “Hardworking immigrant families didn’t wreck our economy, the banks did.”

San Diego, CA — Led by the SEIU USWW Janitors Union, workers, immigrant rights organizations and community members will rally in front of the downtown federal building and to “occupy” the plaza area in front of the Federal building. Eight (8) brave activists, tired of the attacks on immigrant communities by an out of control department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the “San Diego 8” will begin an encampment to draw attention to the disconnect between the stated direction given to ICE by President Obama and their zealous targeting of migrant worker industries. The San Diego 8 will refuse any orders to leave!

“We are fed up and tired of ICE and their rogue behavior targeting well paid immigrant jobs sites and hard working immigrant workers and families,” says Mike Garcia President of SEIU USWW AKA Justice for Janitors. “ICE is doing what the 1% corporate real estate industry wants: using immigration laws to recycle well paid janitors in the hopes of taking back gains in pay and benefits our union has won.”

Through struggle and endless sacrifice over the past 20 years, janitors in California have built a union that has reformed an industry that was known for exploiting workers. The raids by ICE only increase fear among workers. Those who are targeted end up in the underground economy, which only depresses the wages and working conditions of all workers – U.S. born and immigrant. Only by fixing our broken immigration system can we level the playing field, and restore fairness for all workers.

WHAT: Janitors, other workers, and community members protesting ICE worksite raids that serve as de facto union busting for greedy real estate corporations.

WHEN: Thursday, November 17
march begins at 12PM; rally and “occupation” at approximately 1PM

WHERE:       March begins at Civic Center, 1100 3rd Avenue, San Diego
Rally at San Diego Federal Building, Front and Broadway in downtown San Diego

WHO: Hundreds of San Diego workers and allies, together with community supporters.

VISUAL:  POTENTIAL ARRESTS. Workers carrying picket signs, banging on drums, marching, chanting, and handing out leaflets to public AND BUILDING AN ENCAMPMENT WITH FULL PROGRAM THROUGHOUT THE EVENING. 5pm Vigil, 10pm Meeting with Janitors on lunch break form nearby buildings.


Occupy Oakland arrestee faces deportation

Photo: Noah Berger / Special to The Chronicle

Demian Bulwa, Chronicle Staff Writer

Occupy Oakland protesters held a rally today in support of a veteran East Bay activist who faces possible deportation to Mexico after being arrested during Monday’s police sweep of the movement’s encampment outside City Hall.

Records show that 36-year-old Francisco “Pancho” Ramos Stierle of Oakland is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin because of a federal immigration hold.

Footage of the early morning police raid shows Stierle being arrested while meditating and refusing to leave Frank Ogawa Plaza. He was one of 32 people arrested during the sweep.

Huff Post: The U.S.-Mexico Border Is Getting Organized

John Carlos Frey


If you have ever visited a U.S. town or major city along the U.S.-Mexico border you will quickly realize it is a unique part of the country. The region is alive with multiculturalism, globalization and ethnic diversity. I was born in a border town in Mexico, Tijuana, and grew up in a border town in the U.S, San Diego. I believe that border communities are microcosms of what is possible when we embrace our differences instead alienating each other because of them.

For the past few decades, U.S. policy has succeeded in marginalizing, exploiting and vilifying the U.S.-Mexico border region as well as the people who live and work there. In the early 90’s President Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into law. NAFTA vastly changed the way commerce was conducted between Mexico and the United States yet business owners of the region were never consulted. Also in the early 90’s, border walls and an increase of border security infrastructure was added without input from the residents and businesses directly affected by them. In recent years, more border walls and thousands more border guards populate the region. Some landowners in Texas have actually had their properties placed south of the newly constructed border walls, again without consultation.