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Taking on the vigilantes on the San Diego border

By Richard Greenblatt | July 8, 2005 | Page 15

SAN DIEGO, Calif.--Demonstrators marched July 2 through the San Ysidro shopping district to oppose the vigilante-style Minutemen groups who plan to patrol the San Diego-Tijuana border region this summer and fall. Gente Unida, a coalition of more 30 community and political groups, sponsored the spirited march of about 250 people.

San Ysidro is a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, immediately adjacent to the border, and the march passed within view of the border crossing. The marchers' chants included "Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras (Workers' struggles have no borders)" and "Somos un pueblo sin fronteras (We are one people without borders)."

Coalition member Enrique Morones spoke against the racism and vigilantism of the Minutemen groups, who held widely publicized patrols--some of them armed--along the Arizona-Sonora border earlier this year. Morones--an activist with Border Angels, a humanitarian immigrant aid group--also opposed the militarization of the border, saying that in the last 10 years, more than 3,200 immigrants have died attempting to cross the border, while more than 16,000 have been incapacitated.

Prominent in their purple T-shirts were a group of about a dozen union activists from Service Employees International Union Local 1877. The local, representing janitors in the San Diego area, has just won a hard-fought contract that for the first time will include health care benefits.

One of the more apparently violence-prone anti-immigrant groups, the United States Border Patrol Auxiliary, led by ex-Marine James Chase, had called a July 16 action along the border east of San Diego-Tijuana. Chase's group canceled its racist demonstration, but Gente Unida plans to go ahead with its counter-rally in Campo, Calif., as a victory celebration.

A second group is planning to patrol in the San Diego region beginning September 15, which is also Mexican Independence Day. Everyone interested in fighting for social justice should join the efforts to organize against these anti-immigrant bigots.

For more information about how to get involved, send an e-mail to Gente Unida at [email protected].

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