SF immigrant rally battles two big issues

July 29, 2010 8:17:57 PM PDT
Arizona is the epicenter of the immigration debate, but California has its own controversy and on Thursday it landed directly on the doorstep of the state's attorney general.

A rally took place in San Francisco's Mission District. It was scheduled before the judge made the decision taking away some of the more controversial parts of the law. The rally was held anyway because they are still opposed to the rest of Arizona's immigration law and they have a variety of issues facing the immigrant community, which they want to bring attention to.

Thursday morning, the controversy centered around the issue of Secure Communities, or S-Comm. That is a new federal fingerprint gathering program which has been implemented in 48 jurisdictions across 27 states.

Demonstrators opposed to S-Comm, rallied outside Attorney General Jerry Brown's San Francisco office with the support of another state official.

"Mr. Brown show me your papers! Show me your signature! I'm not supporting this law in California," said Assm. Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

They group then went inside looking for him.

S-Comm requires the fingerprints of anyone arrested be run through not only the state and FBI, but also immigration databases. Opponents want San Francisco to be allowed to opt-out.

The sheriff asked Brown as much in May, saying he already reports foreign-born felony offenders to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But Brown denied the request saying, "I believe that working with the federal government in this matter advances important and legitimate law enforcement objectives."

The demonstrators asked a staff member to deliver a message to Brown, who is running for governor.

"Similar to the way we organize, to defend the rights of migrants, we organize U.S. citizens so that they vote and he is going to be a huge target," said Guillermina Castellanos, a S-Comm opponent.

The demonstrators fear S-Comm means people arrested for small infractions will be deported and children left behind.

Law student Daisy Bieyra says she saw this first-hand working in a Ventura County law office.

"Their families would just be so heartbroken. It would be just something like a traffic infraction, or something like that, something that was so little could shatter a family's life in an instant," said Bieyra.

Yeh Ling-Ling is executive director of Alliance For a Sustainable U.S.A. She supports S-Comm saying it's time to control immigration.

"California is bankrupt and American taxpayers should not be paying for social services to illegal families," said Ling-Ling.

Brown's San Francisco office did promise to pass on the demonstrators' contact information saying maybe a face-to-face meeting could be arranged.

ABC7 called his Sacramento office asking for a comment on the day's events and have not yet heard back from him.


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