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Homeland Security chief's appearance at Pomona College commencement draws immigration protesters

Scores of immigration activists descended on Pomona College on Sunday to protest the policies of commencement speaker Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Arizona's controversial anti-illegal immigration law.  

According to organizers of the protest, Napolitano wants to expand immigration policies that were implemented by the Bush administration, among them the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287(g) Program and Secure Communities.

The 287(g) Program allows local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws. Under the Secure Communities, law enforcement officials can cross-check the arrestee's fingerprints with the federal immigration database during the booking process.
Demonstrators claim the policies allow law enforcement agencies to arrest people on a pre-textual basis and violate due process rights.

As Napolitano spoke to the graduating class, the demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Andrew Carnegie building, chanting "Si, se puede!" (Yes, we can) and "Obama escucha, estamos en la lucha" (Obama, listen, we're in the struggle). The protesters were also waving signs that read "Alto AZ" (Stop Arizona) and "No mas racista" (No more racism).

Across the street, about a dozen silent counter-protesters stood holding American flags and held up signs that called for support of Arizona.

Those attending the commencement ceremony shook their heads. "Why are they doing that?" one woman said.

Minutes after Napolitano spoke, the demonstrators continued to Shelton Park, where guest speakers were scheduled to talk.

"I'm pretty sure she heard our message," said Eddie Gonzalez, a representative with the Day Labor Congress for the Inland Empire. "We denounce any discriminatory law."

-- Ruben Vives
Comments () | Archives (11)

They are soooo shooting themselves in the foot!

See what Mexico got for overlooking the laws on the books? I know not everyone of Hispanic descent believes that rules do not apply to them. This is an international spectacle.

I sure sounds like these people are opposed to any efforts to enforce the immigration laws of the United States.

Let's see what happens. Will we be a nation of laws and enforce the ones we have? Will we say oh well you didn't mean to break the laws did you, so you can stay?

""I'm pretty sure she heard our message," said Eddie Gonzalez, a representative with the Day Labor Congress for the Inland Empire. "We denounce any discriminatory law.""

Why dont you denouces people breaking federal law and coming here ILLEGALLY...

The illegal immigrants' rights groups fear ICE programs such as Secure Communities because it takes away one of their routine (and tired) arguments opposing immigration enforcement: racial profiling. With Secure Communities, EVERYONE that is arrested and fingerprinted by local law enforcement agencies will be checked in immigration databases as well. In other words, arrested subjects will be checked for immigration violations through biometric fingerprint data (i.e. non-subjective criteria), and specific ethnic groups cannot claim racial discrimination by law enforcement officials. The bottom line is that Secure Communities will identify illegal aliens in the local jails through fingerprint records, AFTER they have been arrested for committing other offenses.

I am so tired of hearing how illegal immigrants think they can tell us what is legal and just. If you dont like the laws of this country, go home to your own country. That will teach us a lesson.

They denounce a law that discriminates against those who break the law?

Since a huge percentage (anyone know the actual approximate figure?) of Mexico's annual Gross Domestic Product is attributed to Mexicans wiring and sending money earned in the US back home (I'm not saying all Mexicans are illegal in the US), it's understandable that some people would be protesting (including the Mexican president) against an enforcement of a law that would effect them badly economically. The motive of these protests against enforcement is as plain as vanilla as you can get - $. Attempts to color this economic disadvantage as a civil rights issue and racial profiling is to draw attention away from the real motive behind these protests.

Some of the economic advantages potentially being rightfully taken away:
1) paying in state tuition at UC schools as an illegal alien, when US citizens from outside of California are required to pay higher fees until in state residential requirements are met. (Legitimate international students other are charged over 5 times the in state tuition)
2) higher wages (even when paid lower than the US minimum wage) to send back home - which suppresses the labor rate for legal immigrants (of all backgrounds)
3) free healthcare in the form of Medi-cal, increasing the tax burden for all Americans
4) free education from K-12; colleges - see number 1
this list could continue on and on... and this long list of economic advantages is why these protests are happening. Even if a magical method of identifying and immediate removal of all illegal immigrants, regardless of ethnicity was somehow created, these protests would still continue, except for the claim of racial profiling and etc, ... because it would still impact the Latino groups the most since they would be the largest group to be cut off from continuing to enjoy the above listed economic advantages.

Ummm.... Mexican is not a RACE. It is not an ETHNICITY. Being MEXICAN is either "from" the COUNTRY OF MEXICO, or DESCENDED from someone of that country.

Mexico is a country with many, many different races and ethnicities. There are Asian, African, Arabic, Euro and of course, the indigenous tribes (Indians).

So, to all the activists who shout RACISM to everything against the Mexicans should clarify.

Day Labor Congress for the Inland Empire?

Give me a break.

This post saddens me in so many ways. I am a legal immigrant to the US from the United Kingdom and Bangladesh and an alumna of Pomona College. It was the generosity of Pomona's financial aid program that allowed me to move to the US, get a fantastic education, and start a career with the state that I love.

I am saddened that the commencement that celebrated several hundred students' hard work and their accomplishments of four years was disrupted. I am saddened that I have to worry about the treatment my dark-skinned American children (the daughters of a career US soldier, at that) would receive if they were to visit their great grandmother in Arizona. I am saddened by the legitimization of racial stereotypes by legislation in the most open-minded country I have ever had the honour to visit or live in.

My parents emigrated to the United Kingdom, legally, on academic scholarships. I came to the US through similar means. I hope for my children that they will go wherever in the country or world their calling takes them. Our opportunities are not available to the vast majority of those who deserve them. That too makes me sad.


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