How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More immigration-Occupy synergy as 'Occupy ICE' comes to L.A.

Photo by DB's Travels/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A sign at the Occupy L.A. camp, October 2011

Several posts lately have explored the immigrant rights component of the Occupy movement, at least in California, where Occupy protesters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have counted immigration among the many issues they've taken up.

Last month, protesters in San Diego mounted an “Occupy ICE” rally organized by the local janitors' union. The Service Employees International Union has joined with with other labor, civil and immigrant rights groups to do the same in Los Angeles today, with a march to the downtown federal building, which houses a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

In spite of recent immigration-related Occupy protests in New York and Alabama, perhaps nowhere has the Occupy movement - initially accused of being too white - been as involved with immigrant rights activism as in California. Late last month, as police prepared to remove the protesters' camp outside City Hall, Occupy Los Angeles leaders put together and posted a list of “grievances not addressed” that included this request:

Los Angeles to be declared a sanctuary city for the undocumented, deportations to be discontinued and cooperation with immigration authorities be ended – including the turning in of arrestees’ names to immigration authorities.

In the Bay Area, some protesters became involved in a "Free Pancho" movement after the arrest in Oakland of Mexican-born protester and former graduate student Francisco “Pancho Ramos-Stierle, which landed him in the custody of immigration officials. Ramos-Stierle was eventually released pending a deportation hearing.

According to the Occupy Los Angeles website, protesters today are rallying "to help end the targeting of immigrant workers and their families, who have struggled to make poverty jobs, into good jobs!" (That's their exclamation point.)

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