Protesting raids in Riverside
RIVERSIDE, Calif.--A recent string of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents sparked a 300-strong march in downtown Riverside on February 7.
ICE carried out the raids, with the help of Riverside police, at day labor centers and surrounding neighborhoods. According to one protester, "ICE was literally taking people off the streets."
One activist said that ICE has to meet a quota, which has risen from 100 to 150, so ICE agents work the hardest rounding up immigrants during the end of the month. On February 2, the U.S. Border Patrol announced it would investigate of allegations by agents that they were given arrest quotas and threatened with punishment if they failed to meet them.
According to the Associated Press, Jeffrey Calhoon, the chief patrol agent for the El Centro Sector, which oversees Riverside, ICE uses "goals" to motivate agents, but not quotas. Agents said the arrest "goal" jumped to from 100 in November and December to 150 arrests last month.
"It is very concerning to us, and we will do our own investigation to see what happened," Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told the Los Angeles Times.
"I do believe a quota system is in place. We had this suspicion before, but I think it has been confirmed," Alvarado said. "I am not a legal expert, but I think the Border Patrol is supposed to be on the border. I can't tell you for sure that what they are doing is illegal, but what is illegal is racial profiling and that's what's happening in the Inland Empire right now."
At the February 7 rally, Omar Leon of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, told the crowd, "We are here to denounce the joint actions of the Border Patrol and the Riverside Police Department."
"There have been numerous operations in the past few weeks against the Latino community," Leon said. "They have targeted the Casa Blanca neighborhood, specifically the area where workers congregate in front of the Home Depot."
A planning meeting for the march turned out more than 30 people, most of them students--an indicator that we are in a new era of politics and struggle.