April 7, 2006

March for Dignity!

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Immigrants across the nation want justice.

They want justice in Chicago, where more than a 100,000 people marched.

They want justice in Los Angeles, where, last month, more than half a million people marched.

They also want justice here in San Diego, where between 10,000 and 20,000 people are expected to join what organizers are calling “Immigrants are America: March for Dignity, Respect and Hope for Immigrants.”

The march will take place this Sunday, April 9. Protesters will meet at Balboa Park, at the intersection of 6th. Ave. and Laurel, at 1 p.m. for a rally. Then, at 2 p.m., as many as 20,000 people will march from Balboa Park to the Federal Building, on Front St., in Downtown San Diego.

The march is being organized by several community, religious, and political organizations in the area, including ACORN, MAAC Project, Border Angels, Catholic Charities, among others.

“This is going to be something historical,” said Victoria Samahan, coordinator with ACORN San Diego.

Samahan said that organizers have been planning this march for several weeks now, and that the main purpose is to call for a comprehensive, humane, and family-oriented immigration reform.

To date, more than five million Americans have demonstrated from Chicago to Washington D.C. and Detroit to Los Angeles. Now, San Diego, led by a diverse group of supporters is mobilizing. A coalition comprised of faith leaders, community groups, labor unions, students and youth will lead a march of solidarity on the eve of a nation-wide day of action around immigration reform.

“Just and fair immigration legislation in the United States must consider the lives of people who have lived here for years” says Gus Chavez, retired professor associated with the Parent Institute for Quality Education “We must remember that immigrants are society’s conscience.”

In the last few days, students in San Diego have had spontaneous marches and have walked out of classes to have their voices heard all across the county. On Friday, March 31, César Chávez Day, there was a march from Chicano Park through Downtown San Diego and Logan Heights. As many as 5,000 people participated in that march.

Just like the students, Sunday’s march will be a plight for immigrants’ rights, Samahan said.

“There’s a feeling of rage, of wanting to do something for the immigrants,” she said.

Samahan added that San Diego is a city in the middle of all the immigration conflict going on in the U.S., from HR 4732, which would turn undocumented immigrants into criminals, to the Minutemen Project.

“We want to show the rest of the nation that we’re here to defend the rights of immigrants,” she said.

Samahan said that the students who participated in the walk outs a few weeks ago won’t forget that their parents are undocumented and that, once they turn 18, students are going to be able to vote.

“They will become the next political power,” she said. “That’s something very important.”

She said that although organizers are expecting about 20,000 people, with the help of the media, that number can turn into 80,000.

“There has never been anything like this in San Diego,” she said.

Samahan said that this will be San Diego’s largest march in history.

Students in Barrio Logan are also having another march, this one on a smaller scale, on Saturday, April 8.

Christian Ramírez, director of American Friends Service Committee, said that Logan youth from several youth organizations, such as Somos Raza and MEChA of San Diego State, have planned a march from Chicano Park through the streets of Logan Heights.

Originally, this was supposed to be just a commemoration of Emiliano Zapata’s birthday, which is on April 10. But after all the student protests that took place here in San Diego, organizers of the event decided to join the plight for immigration reform.

“Our youth has the passion, the courage to stand up for their community’s rights,” Ramírez said.

He added that about 600 people are expected to attend this march. He also said that American Friends Service Committee will also participate in the April 9 march.

Immigrants Are America March
When: Sunday, April 9th, 2006
Where: Meet at Balboa Park (Intersection of 6th and Laurel)
Specifics: Rally 1 pm, March 2pm
More information: Central and South San Diego County: (619) 255-6986
North County: (760) 672-7419
East County: (619) 593-7338, (760) 877-0277

Student March at Chicano Park
The march will begin at 1 p.m. at Chicano Park. After the march, there will be live music and food. For more information, call American Friends Service Committee at (619) 233-4114.

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