Nation of immigrants

Protesters march behind a banner reading “Stop All Deportations!” All photos by Pax Ahimsa Gethen, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Last Wednesday, February 28, I attended a protest of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in San Francisco. The rally was originally scheduled for March 5, the date President Donald Trump had set for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But a Supreme Court decision deferred the termination, leaving the fate of the “Dreamers” in limbo. Then, immigration authorities arrested over 150 people in a series of raids in Northern and Central California.

So on February 27, activists from several San Francisco Bay Area organizations supporting immigrants called for an emergency rally at noon the following day. (Another rally was held in nearby Contra Costa County that afternoon as well.) When I arrived about fifteen minutes before the announced start time, activists were already blocking the intersections surrounding the ICE facility.

Activists with arms locked in tubes chant while blocking an intersection.

I’d attended a similar action last year on May Day, but this time the protesters blocking the intersections and ICE driveways locked their arms inside tubes. They were quite determined to shut the immigration authority down for the day.

Activists with arms locked in tubes block a driveway and display a sign reading “Sanctuary for All”.
Activists with arms locked in tubes block a driveway and display signs reading “Sanctuary for All” and “No Raids No Ban No Wall”.

Also similar to the May Day rally, activists painted a large message in the street. When, finished, it read “Bay Area United Against ICE — Keep Families Together”.

Activists paint a message in the middle of the street.

Over 200 people attended the protest, which was covered by several news organizations.

Protesters march and chant, holding a megaphone and various signs.

My thoughts: The United States is a nation of immigrants, despite the current administration’s literal erasure of that phrase. And despite President Trump’s clear preference for white immigrants over brown and black people from “shithole countries”, this country would not exist without the labors—whether enslaved or underpaid — of black and brown folks.

I’m not interested in debates over legal vs illegal immigration when I live in a country that is hostile toward people of color. White folks are happy to have undocumented immigrants harvest their crops, clean their houses, and do all kinds of other work they would never dream of doing, all while yammering about “illegals” taking their jobs and committing crimes.

No human being is illegal. While even in San Francisco black and brown folks face discrimination and police terror, I am glad to live in a sanctuary city.

Protesters block an intersection, holding signs and banners.

My full set of photos from the protest is available on Flickr. Many of the photos are on Wikimedia Commons as well. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks.

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