SAN DIEGO – The new movement Occupy ICE/Occupy La Migra seeks to halt the deportations of immigrants with demonstrations here outside the offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
This movement encompasses union members, as well as pro-immigrant activists and the general public.
The initiative seeks to halt the ICE activities that have led to the loss of jobs, particularly among cleaning workers, and is calling for stopping the deportations that are affecting immigrant families.
According to what Mike Garcia, president of Service Employees International Union – United Service Workers West, told Efe, the movement is responding to new tactics being employed by ICE.
He said that ICE is requesting documents from companies and after auditing them they are demanding that certain workers be fired or that workers provide new documentation.
In this way, the SEIU-USWW lost 1,200 of its members in Minnesota three years ago, a similar number in San Francisco 18 months ago, and ICE recently began the process in San Diego.
The ICE actions, Garcia said, “reverse decades of the organization’s work, since the undocumented workers have fought for the right to join unions to improve their living conditions.”
Activist Enrique Morones, the founder of the Border Angels group, one of the organizations that participated in Occupy ICE in San Diego last week, told Efe that the event also served to emphasize the case of Honduran immigrant Omar Aguilar.
Aguilar, Morones said, has lived in the United States for five years and ICE refused his request for asylum despite the fact that three members of his family have been murdered back in Honduras, and he is scheduled to be deported on Dec. 8.
“(President Barack) Obama said that he would concentrate on criminals and Omar isn’t a criminal; he didn’t have adequate legal representation and so we’re seeking to have his deportation suspended,” Morones said.
The activist emphasized the link between the demonstrations around the country that have sprung out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the activism of pro-immigration reform groups, and he said he believed it was wrong to call the movement the first massive demonstration in decades.
The activist recalled that in 2006 the “immigrant spring” movement arose and on March 10 some 400,000 people marched in Chicago, 800,000 marched on March 25 in Los Angeles and 100,000 on April 9 in San Diego.
He added that the immigrants also can contribute to resolving the U.S. economic problems, and he echoed the call from the National Immigration Forum to cut the budget of the Border Patrol, which has grown by about 1,000 percent since 1993.
“We need to eliminate expenditures like the billions (of dollars) wasted on the border. Since the flow of immigrants has lessened due to the economy, there are fewer immigrants crossing. We need a (type of) immigration reform that’s going to stimulate the economy,” Morones said. EFE