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News and reports

September 8, 2006 | Page 11

Support immigrant day laborers
By Molly Goss

FULTON, Calif.--The usually quiet streets of this suburb of Santa Rosa, Calif., were full of activity on August 19, when dozens of people gathered to support immigrant day laborers' right to seek jobs without harassment.

Activists were here to protest half a dozen anti-immigrant protesters who turned out to harass and take pictures of day laborers.

These racists were recruited through the Web site reportanddeport.org, operated by Jeff Wilson, whose objective is to shut down what he falsely claims is an "illegal hiring center on Fulton Road."

However, as Renee Saucedo who works with the Day Laborer Program of San Francisco and with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network explains, there is nothing illegal about standing on a street corner looking for work.

"We are here in solidarity with our brothers, the day laborers who seek work here on this corner of Fulton Road, because this group of anti-immigrant, racist people are attacking this corner, like they are doing all over the nation," she said. "We are here to send a message that we will never tolerate that these racists take control of these street corners, and that the only thing these men are doing is peacefully looking for work and we respect that right."

At a meeting before the protest at a local church, day laborers were informed about their right to seek work without harassment. Some expressed the desire to start a day labor center, which could provide more security and equality in assigning jobs to the more 60 workers that gather Monday through Saturday.

"Repression breeds resistance, which breeds the need to organize," said Davin Cardenas, who is a part of "El Comité Jornalero" (Day Labor Committee) in nearby Graton. "I think these day laborers have seen their enemies physically in front of them, and it reinforces the importance of organizing. But it needs to come from the workers."

Francisco, who has been coming to the Fulton intersection for the last four months, said, "I think it would be a good idea--we would be more secure."

Juan, a day laborer from Graton, came out to support the Fulton workers. "We are here to support the Fulton workers, and we know the vigilantes want to try to intimidate them," Juan said. "We are also here protesting, because we want to show this vigilante group that the workers aren't alone."

After this protest, local organizations galvanized the community to come out the following Saturday. No vigilantes showed up. "I think that this vigilante group saw the lack of support for their cause but we have to be vigilant and not accept this as a victory yet," Cardenas said.
Activists are organizing a network of emailing, phone calls and local public radio shows to get out the word if the racists come back. "We know we are supported and we are not alone," Francisco said.

No human being is illegal
By Zakiya Khabir

SAN DIEGO--The Sí Se Puede coalition of San Diego hosted a forum on August 26 to discuss strategies for the fight for immigrant rights.

Some 30 activists and community members attended, despite recent raids by immigration officials and harassment by anti-immigrant vigilantes in the largely Latino City Heights neighborhood. Attendees included well-known movement activists such as Nativo López, president of the Mexican American Political Association; Justin Akers Chacón, co-author of the new book No One is Illegal; and Enrique Morones, cofounder of Border Angels.

The focus of the day was unifying the various groups working for immigrant rights in San Diego.

Participants were especially energized by the five-week-old organization, Friends of Day Laborers (FDL), who have united against the harassment of day laborers by racist groups like the Minutemen. FDL monitors the Minutemen with video and photographs in addition to serving meals to the besieged workers. Day laborers themselves are integral to the organization, participating in the decision-making.

The forum also was the launch pad for organizing a sanctuary campaign in National City. Located 10 miles from the border, National City would join cities like San Francisco, Chicago, El Paso and Cambridge, Mass., in curtailing the harassment immigrants face from raids and the border patrol.

Energized and unified by the event, activists are now better prepared to enter the next stage in the struggle for equal rights.

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