San Diego Protest Of Trump's Immigration Policies Draws 800, Leads To 10 Arrests
Demonstrators protesting immigration-enforcement policies draped a banner from the roof of the Westin hotel in downtown San Diego Monday as part of a "Free Our Future" demonstration.
San Diego Police say they arrested 10 people involved in unfurling the banner, which read “Free Our Families Now” and “Stop Streamline,” referring to the zero tolerance immigration policy that led to family separations and calls for en masse court hearings.
The day of demonstrations is another example of how permitted marches, such as those supporting women’s rights and school safety, have given way to shows of civil disobedience as President Donald Trump’s immigration policies embolden protesters nationwide.
Last week, nearly 600 women marched to the Senate building in Washington, D.C., to be arrested in a show of solidarity with with immigrant parents and children who had been separated.
“Donald Trump’s and Jeff Session’s attacks have intensified against our communities and that’s why now our response is intensifying,” said Chicago Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who travelled to San Diego to protest. “You’re going to hear more of us, see more of us. This fight is just beginning.”
Ramirez-Rosa was one of about 24 demonstrators who locked arms to block the entrance to the Edward J. Schwartz building on Front Street. They were warned by police at least twice that they were causing a fire hazard and could be arrested if they continued to block the federal building entrance. No arrests had been made as of mid-afternoon, according to police.
An estimated 800 people first gathered at Chicano Park around 9 a.m. before marching downtown. Many of the protesters held signs calling for the abolishment of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I can’t imagine the suffering of people who don’t have their child with them,” said marcher Maythe Figueroa as she held her sleeping one year old, Esmerelda. “I am blessed to be here and if there is a little bit that I can do to make a difference I will do whatever it takes."
A national group called Mijente organized Monday’s events. The group mobilized under former President Barack Obama to protest high numbers of deportations then. Mijente Director Marisa Franco said the group aims to support activists of color and those who are in the country illegally.
“Some of the messaging we’ve seen is, ‘This is not who we are,’ and people being really alarmed at family separation. And I think for people who are separated from their family members or have that in their history, that’s really painful, because it’s not acknowledging that that has happened and continues to happen,” she said.
“Ultimately, it is part of who this country has been and so the question is who do we want to be going forward?” Franco said. “To be different, we have to acknowledge what’s actually happening, what the history is of many communities, not just migrants."
The action coincides with the expected San Diego introduction of Operation Streamline, a fast-track prosecution program that moves migrants through the criminal justice system in group hearings. Originally introduced by President George W. Bush in 2005, the program has lately been used only in select Arizona and Texas cities.
Grassroots groups such a Junto Global, Puente and GLAHR attended the rally.
Representatives from the Women's March also participated, along with members of 35 organizations, including the Communication Workers of America, Movement for Black Lives, Dream Defenders, Faith Matters Network, Working Families Party and Jewish Voices for Peace.
A few passersby expressed disapproval of the demonstrations but did not want to be interviewed.