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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Immigrant Rights

HR4437 Protest 03/15/06
by Itai ( itai450 [at] yahoo.com )
Monday Mar 20th, 2006 3:07 PM
100+ take to the streets in Monterey in oposition to HR4437
On Wednesday March 15th, over one hundred activists congregated at Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey to voice their opinion on the new HR4437 bill that had just passed in the house of representative and is now on its way to senate. The activists included students, Community Members, Brown Berets, Veterans, and Children. The protest started with the leader a Brown Beret giving a motivating speech about the importance of stopping this bill from passing through the senate. This bill as he explained was not just an attack on the Latino population or the Asian community this was a bill that is an attack on every person of every color. He stated that if you are an illegal immigrant in this country you will be considered a felon. He went on to say that this would not just affect the “Illegal” immigrant population but the legal citizens of the United States as well. If you are found to be harboring an illegal immigrant you will be charged with harboring a fugitive. As explained this could result in stiff fines and/or jail time. The guidelines for who is harboring a fugitive in these circumstances are so loose that it says that if you employ, house, or are friends with an illegal immigrant you are subject to penalty. The leader of the demonstration made a very poignant observation that if this passes you will almost have to question all of your friends about their immigration status because if you fail to find out that they are an illegal immigrant and you let them sleep over at your house for a night or are found in public with them in your company you will be charged for harboring a fugitive. Through his speech he made it very clear that he was not just trying to make this only a criminalization of one type of ethnicity this was a criminalization of everyone. This criminalized illegal immigrants; legal citizens, employers, as well as the people that are helping immigrants get “Legal” status in this country.

With these ideals in the demonstrator’s minds they began an orderly march to Downtown Monterey (Alvarado Street) to tell the general public how they felt. As the protest moved towards downtown the number of demonstrators increased as they found more supporters to their cause. At one point the demonstration blocked one lane of the road as the demonstrators took to the street. As soon as the demonstrators reached the vicinity of the downtown area the police came on site and ordered the demonstrators back to the sidewalks. The police then took surveillance pictures of the demonstrator’s faces and signs. As the demonstrators marched through downtown the shops started to empty as spectators came to see the 100+ demonstrators march. The protest went very well and raised consciousness to a lot of people without incident.