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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Peninsula | Immigrant Rights
Last Minute annoucement of Minutemen rally in Saturday in Redwood City
Announcement from mainstream press of Minutemen rally Saturday in Redwood City
Backers of feds' raids set to rally
By Neil Gonzales, STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 02/16/2007 02:54:23 AM PST
Officials balk at criticizing sweeps
REDWOOD CITY — Supporters of the recent federal raids on illegal immigrants plan a rally downtown Saturday.
A Bay Area chapter of the Minutemen, a controversial national civilian border group, will lead the rally in support of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, which has netted several illegal immigrants in the area.
"We think there has to be a messagesent for people who come here illegally," said Charles Birkman, spokesman for the Fremont-based Golden Gate Minutemen. "The raids send a strong message that ... we don't tolerate this way of entry in this country."
The demonstration starts at 1 p.m. at El Camino Real and Jefferson Avenue.
Birkman said similar rallies have happened already in the Bay Area, while others are being planned as a nationwide debate over immigration reform is expected to heat up over the next few months.
Redwood City Councilwoman Alicia Aguirre, who last week met with the Latino community to help ease its fears in the wake of the ICE raids, is not thrilled the Minutemen-led rally will occur here.
"It's kind of sad," she said, "but I think everyone has the right to their view."
Birkman said the Redwood City rally will also seek a pardon from President Bush for two imprisoned former U.S. Border Patrol agents, Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos.
The pair are serving prison sentences after being convicted of shooting a suspected drug smuggler and trying to cover it up. Many lawmakers
in Washington have asked the president to pardon the two, arguing that they were convicted wrongly for defending the American border against criminal intruders.
Critics have described the Minutemen as vigilantes whose border-watch activities are racist.
Birkman dismissed that portrayal, saying, "If you can associate violence with an association, then you can criminalize their politics and point of view. I think that's what is behind people saying the Minutemen is racist."
He said the group also has a chapter in Castro Valley and is trying to form groups in Redwood City, Pleasanton and Vallejo.
Staff writer Neil Gonzales can be reached at (650) 306-2427 or ngonzales [at] sanmateocountytimes.com.