The marchers left the old city hall building in Berkeley around 11 a.m. and headed down University, blocking some lanes of traffic. They were headed for the Pacific Steel Casting plant and along the way, they were protesting America's immigration policy, in particular, what they call "silent raids" by immigration officials.
Demonstrators at a pre-march rally held signs saying things like "Fight immigration bashing," "Schools not jails," and "Health care not warfare." Organizers say silent raids require employers to produce documents proving employees are in the country legally. They are just the kind of raid that led to the firing of 200 workers Pacific Steel Casting in Berkeley.
Protest leaders say the buck stops with President Obama's immigration policy. "So, we're arguing for papers for all, jobs for all. Distribute the wealth accordingly in order to fix this problem," said rally organizer Javier Amatrelladora. "And, Obama is following a corporate mainstream policy that severely attacking immigrants even though he co-ops the message of immigrants, using 'Si se puede,' yes we can, for his campaign."
Friday morning's rally was not an ad-lib event. It was organized with the blessing of the Berkeley Police Department who actually escorted the marchers down University Rd. Organizers said that when the demonstrators reached the casting plant, they planned to protest for about one hour, hoping to bring attention to what they feel is a very serious problem.