San Bernardino - Protesters denounce immigration raids
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Protesters denounce immigration raids
Stephen Wall, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/31/2008 02:35:27 PM PST
SAN BERNARDINO - Day laborers and their allies Wednesday called for a
stop to recent raids targeting immigrant workers.
About 60 educators, church members, students and community leaders
held a news conference and protest across the street from the Home
Depot at the corner of Lincoln Drive and 21st Street.
On Dec. 23 through 25, according to witnesses, U.S. Border Patrol
agents in unmarked vehicles arrested and detained at least five day
laborers as they waited on the sidewalk to solicit work.
Natalie Alvarez, a member of the Centro Cristiano Agape Church in
Rialto, said she was delivering food to the workers the morning of
She said she was praying with a large group of day laborers when a
plain-clothes agent arrived and detained a man who was standing by
Luis Enrique, a 25-year-old day laborer who did not want to give his
last name because he is an illegal immigrant, said he saw a fellow
worker picked up by the Border Patrol.
"We're living in a state of fear," said Luis, a Mexican immigrant who
came to the United States eight years ago. "We're not criminals. We're
just=2 0here to work to feed our families."
Border Patrol agents working out of the agency's Riverside office
performed the arrests as part of their routine activities, said
Richard Velez, an El Centro-based Border Patrol spokesman.
"It's nothing out of the ordinary," said Velez. "It's part of the
daily duties of Border Patrol agents as mandated by Congress. Our
mission is to secure the nation from terrorists, alien smugglers as
well as violators of drug laws."
Velez said he did not have details of the arrests.
Emilio Amaya, who runs a nonprofit that provides assistance to
individuals detained by immigration authorities, said he has been able
to confirm the names of five people who were detained. It's possible
others were arrested, he said.
The five detainees are from Mexico and Central America, he said. Some
voluntarily returned to their home countries while others are being
held at a federal detention facility in Lancaster, he said.
Amaya also criticized the Border Patrol for placing agents at the
Greyhound Bus Station in downtown San Bernardino.
Agents question passengers about their immigration status when they
arrive at the station. Latinos are treated differently than other
riders, according to Amaya.
"Latinos are asked to stay on the bus while the others can get off.
It's racial profiling," Amaya said.
Velez said the Border Patrol does20not engage in any kind of racial
"The Border Patrol does not target any type of race or gender," Velez
said. "The Border Patrol has a mandate to do their job. In the case of
the bus stop, it's only a casual conversation. An agent approaches
somebody and talks to the person. They ask, `How are you doing? Where
are you going?' As the conversation develops, the agent can develop
reasonable suspicions and take it from there."
Velez said there is a history of illegal immigrants using Greyhound
buses to travel within the United States.
"Public transportation hubs will be used by smugglers to move illegal
immigrants into the country. That's why we do it," Velez said.
Organizers of the protest say they plan to have observers in front of
Home Depot over the next week to prevent additional arrests.
"Officials do this because they don't think anybody is watching," said
Suzanne Foster, executive director of the Pomona Economic Opportunity
Center, also known as the Pomona Day Labor Center. "In all my years, I
have never seen such an aggressive and hostile raid during Christmas
time. We're concerned it separated families on one of the holiest days
of the year."
Los Angeles Newspaper Group
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Subject: San Bernardino County Sun: Protesters denounce immigration raids
SAN BERNARDINO - Day laborers and their allies Wednesday called for a stop to recent raids targeting immigrant workers. View Full Story