How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Hundreds at 'Occupy ICE' rally in downtown L.A.

Photo by Corey Moore/KPCC

"Occupy ICE" protesters in Los Angeles, December 15, 2011

KPCC's Corey Moore reported on today's "Occupy ICE" protest in downtown Los Angeles, organized by labor, civil and immigrant rights groups. It's one of a slowly growing number of immigration-related Occupy protests, similar to one that took place in San Diego last month.

Hundreds joined the rally, according to the story, protesting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities fingerprint-sharing enforcement program and the separation of mixed-status families as the federal government has carried out record numbers of deportations. A march concluded at the downtown federal building, where ICE has an office.

Check here later for audio.

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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:

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Immigration, deportations on Occupy L.A.'s list of grievances

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

A sign at the Occupy Los Angeles camp, October 2011

As Occupy L.A. protesters prepared last week to fight the city's planned eviction of their camp outside City Hall - still on hold as they take the eviction fight to court - a list of demands drafted by the protesters solidified their sympathy for the immigrant rights movement.

A few days ago, the Los Angeles protesters posted a list of "grievances not addressed" that ranged from a moratorium on foreclosures to seeking a better public transit system to student debt relief, and 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.

It's a tall order in Los Angeles County, which has long had a partnership

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Scenes from a mini-'Occupy': Latino protesters in South Gate

Criticism of the "Occupy" protests that began last month in New York - which by now have spawned a widespread series of mini-Occupies - as being too white has never completely applied in Los Angeles, where Latinos and other minorities have played at least a small part since the start. And less so now with the spread of mini-protests like "Occupy South Gate," a campout that began last week in the 95 percent Latino southeast L.A. County city.

As with the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York and its big-city offspring, the central thread tying particiants together in these smaller protests is the economic crisis, with a variety of other issues thrown in. Interviews with late-night campers this weekend outside South Gate City Hall posted by TheBoxer93 (who peppered his questions with conspiracy theories and random non-sequiturs) reveal younger Latinos concerned with issues that are not Latino-specific, but which relate to general concerns like the economy, transparency in government, education and the real estate bust, which disproportionately affected the fortunes of Latino and black Americans.

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