On July 29, more than 100 people gathered at the intersection of 24th and Mission streets to protest Arizona’s state immigration legislation, SB1070 and its amendment HB2162, and the federal Secure Communities program recently implemented in San Francisco.
SB 1070 was criticized for allowing police officers to question a person they have “reasonable suspicion” of being in the U.S. illegally, demand documentation proving citizenship, and check the immigration status of someone arrested in the course of enforcing other laws. The Secure Communities program requires local law enforcement to forward fingerprint information obtained upon an individual’s arrest to a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement database that registers undocumented immigrants.
People gathered in response to U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton’s decision on July 28 to strike down the disputed provisions of SB 1070, even though other parts of the law were left intact.
The convergence was called by the coalition Freedom Bus, which represents several social, political and religious organizations, as well as independent activists from all over the Bay Area.
Phil Hutchings of the organization Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) said that the judge’s decision to bar implementation of certain aspects of the law was “a victory for something that should never, ever have happened. This law should not have been there in the first place. It is a law against human rights, it is a law for racial profiling, and much of it still continues despite what was recently decided by the judge yesterday.”
Hutchings compared the recent efforts to support immigrants against Arizona’s legislative attempts to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s in states like Mississippi. “In terms of immigrants’ rights, Mississippi is now Arizona, because Arizona is going to be the toughest nut to crack.”
A representative from the group Transgender Latina Community followed Hutchings, emphasizing that the group knows what it is to be discriminated against and made a call to fight against injustice and repression locally. “We all are Arizona, and San Francisco says no to injustice, no to SB 1070 (…) San Francisco is a Sanctuary City and we are going to fight for it.”
A bilingual elementary school teacher from the Answer Coalition, Antoinette Marquez, later grabbed the microphone, asserting that immigrants have no rights and that funds for public schools are dwindling, depriving children of educational opportunities. “Yesterday’s decision by the federal judge to block parts of the racist law is welcome development but this isn’t a win for the politicians (…) Many people think that we [as immigrants] are good for cleaning up and making food but they don’t want to give us the rights that we deserve. We need to continue fighting for immigrants’ rights, we need to continue fighting for education and more healthcare and end these illegal wars.”
Bryan Cruz from the International Socialist Organization said, “It isn’t an immigration problem that we have, it’s a capitalism problem. And as far as I’m concerned both parties are supporting capitalism.”
He criticized Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown for his support of Secure Communities. “Secure Communities makes every single city in the United States an Arizona. It is time to fight; it is time to defend our communities.”
Finally, Norma Marcelo Gallegos, mentor from the organization Radical Women of the Bay Area—a socialist feminist association—said, “We need to see immigration as a labor and human rights issues and not an issue of national security or enforcement…Let’s demand an end to raids and deportations, an end to enforce-first policies, and eliminate the privatization of detention systems.”
To finish the event, a small group of demonstrators walked down Mission Street, from 24th to 16th, chanting slogans and showing banners as several SFPD police officers looked on. Once on 16th Street, several speakers talked briefly and the demonstration dissolved without any incidents.