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Poor People’s Campaign Comes to Orange County

17 Apr

Inspired by the civil-rights movement, the Poor People’s Campaign, on Thursday, April 11, brought its “Truth and Poverty Tour” to four stops across Orange County “to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality,” according to the meetup.com about page of the Orange County Poor People’s Campaign.

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On the second stop of the Orange County Poor People’s Campaign, a crowd of about two dozen people, on Thursday, April 11, gathered to hear speakers across the street of the Theo Lacey Facility in Orange, which houses detainees for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Photo by Barry Saks

The second stop was across the street of the Theo Lacey Facility, which houses detention centers for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The public leader of the OCPPC, Lisa Pedersen, who characterizes herself as “a community activist for human rights and social justice,” also on the same meetup.com site, introduced Jan Meslin.  Meslin, who helped, in 1984, found the Friends for Orange County Detainees, which visits detained immigrants, emceed.

In her introduction, Meslin, said, “There are several thousand men right now, right across the street who are in maximum security prison…. Each of these men has a story, each of these men has a family… a lot of them have lost their jobs, their apartments and they could be out here thriving…. A little more than 500 are there simply because they don’t have proper documents.”

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Jan Meslin, who is from Freedom for Immigrants, addresses, on Thursday, April 11, the crowd gathered across the street from the Theo Lacey ICE detention center in Orange at the second stop of the Orange County Poor People’s Campaign.

Meslin, who is now the director of social change development for Freedom for Immigrants, introduced Roberto Herrera as a Community Engagement Coordinator for the Resilience Orange County, which according to its website, is “a youth-oriented institution that works towards social-systemic transformation while promoting healing, trauma-informed and culturally relevant practices that are inclusive of all members of the community.”  Meslin said, “Roberto (Herrera) has worked to advance and defend the rights of immigrants and the undocumented community in Orange County, specifically those most marginalized, including the LGBTQ community, those with past criminal convictions, overly-criminalized youth and people of color.”

Herrera said, “The (California) Attorney General (Xavier Becerra) in February of this year released a report detailing the conditions inside this detention center.  What confirmed was what we already know, the egregious conditions inside.”  He added that this center doesn’t have a “proper grievance process.”  If detainees are “experiencing excess force by the sheriffs,” the detainees have no recourse because the grievances are not collected.

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Carlos Alexander Hidalgo, who had been detained at ICE detention centers in Adelando and the Theo Lacey in Orange, speaks, Thursday, April 11, across the street of  Theo Lacey about his incarceration and becoming an immigrant-rights activist; Photo by Barry Saks

 

After Herrera spoke, Meslin introduced Carlos Alexander Hidalgo and said she met him after he had been transferred from the Adelanto ICE detention center to Theo Lacey in retaliation to a hunger strike he started.

“He was born in El Salvador in 1967, came to the U.S. when he was 11-years old, he graduated from Bell Gardens High School (in Los Angeles County) and he made a life, got married, he had some children, he worked, and found himself in some legal trouble…served a little bit of time and instead of going on parole as if he were a U.S. citizen, he found himself in the detention-deportation system….He was able to get bonds and be released,” Meslin said.

Hidalgo, who is on the leadership council of Freedom for Immigrants, said, “The last five years with all that has happened to me, I’ve become an immigration activist.…I lost custody to my kids just because I couldn’t make it to court, (I lost) my business….I’m going to be the thorn in their eyes.”

After Hidalgo spoke, the Rev. Michelle Harris-Gloyer of the First Christian Church of Orange, Disciples of Christ, led the crowd in the song, “Someone is Hurting My Brother” and the second, which the reverend characterized as a mantra, “I am not Afraid.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long Beach Residents Rally in Solidarity with Central-American Immigrants at US-Mexican Border

30 Nov

 

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Jonathan Solorzano of the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition emcees, Thursday, Nov. 29, the rally in solidarity with Central-American Immigrants at the US-Mexican border; photo by Barry Saks.

While the Long Beach rally in solidarity with the caravan of Central-American immigrants at the United States-Mexican border, was canceled because of wind and rain, about 40 people, on Thursday, Nov. 29, braved the weather at Harvey Milk Promenade Park, 185 E. Third St. to show their solidarity with the migrants and to collect donations for them.

According to the press release issued before the rally, the organizers for the rally were the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and other community groups.

Jonathan Solorzano, the lead organizer for the LBIRC, emceed.  Solorzano began the rally with the chant: “When immigrants are under attack, what’ll we do?  We’ll stand up and fight back.”  He apologized for the sudden cancelation of the rally and said, however, a short program would follow.  He said, “There was a blatant human rights violation that happened on Sunday, in which the Mexican police attacked the Central-American caravan….This administration (U.S.) has time and time again shown that immigrants south of the border are not welcomed.”

Solorzano introduced the 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce.  Pearce said, “I don’t want to target one administration (over another)….We as America has to do right by citizens of the world…. Having a border is one thing.  Having a disagreement on how we go through a process of making sure that people that are seeking asylum, that refugees have a safe place is another thing.  Gassing people at the border is completely unacceptable.”

 

 

Gaby Hernandez, the program manager for the LBIRC, said donations may be delivered to the LBIRC office at 525 E. 7th St., Long Beach until Friday, Nov. 30.

In the same press release, Hernandez said, “Long Beach is against the human rights violations happening at the southern border.  We stand in solidarity with refugees because seeking asylum is their human right.”  “Whether white, black, or brown, we want to join together across our differences and show our support for the refugee community by speaking out on these injustices and collecting essential donations for people in need.”

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Donations collected, Thursday, Nov. 29, at solidarity rally with Central-American immigrants at US-Mexican border; photo by Barry Saks

 

 

Hundreds March Against Federal Policies of Separating Immigrant Families and for a ‘Clean’ Long Beach Values Act

3 Jul
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June 30, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

More than 1,000 people rallied and marched, on Saturday, June 30, from Caesar Chavez Park to the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building, which houses offices of the U.S.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., to protest the Trump Administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families and to protest locally the exceptions in the Long Beach Values Act, which allows the Long Beach Police Department to turn over previously convicted immigrants to the ICE.

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Nikole Cababa, from the Filipino Migrant Center, emcees pro-immigrant protest, June 30 in Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Nikole Cababa, who identified herself as a community organizer for the Filipino Migrant Center, emceed.  In her opening remarks, Cababa said, “We are here because families are being torn apart.  We are here because children, as young as three-years old are being forced to defend themselves in deportation hearings….We are here because parents are left with no choice but to flee their homelands to escape violence and poverty, and yet, they face detention and isolation away from their loved ones.  We are here because there are corporations making humongous profits, imprisoning migrants, refugees, black-and-brown communities and the poor every single day. And we are here to demand this city and all cities across this country to step up to do more for to protect migrants and refugees, and make this city a sanctuary for all.”  She reminded the audience President Obama had deported more than 2.5 million people and argued the migration patterns today, which she called, “forced migration” are a result of U.S. foreign policy toward Central America.  She ended with reiterating the need for the Long Beach City Council to pass a “clean” (meaning without exception to prior criminal convictions) Long Beach Values Act.

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Rev. Cue Jn-Marie speaks at protest at Caesar Chavez Park in Long Beach, June 30; photo by Barry Saks

Cababa introduced Rev. Cue Jn-Marie, which according to the Row Church website is “a former Virgin Records rapper, turned evangelist and activist.”  The Reverend, who said he lived in Long Beach, told the crowd he had just come back from Washington D.C., where he had participated in the Poor People’s Campaign.  He reminded the crowd the original Poor People’s Campaign was started by the Rev. Martin Luther King just before he was assassinated.  The Reverend ended by leading the crowd to the chant: Abolish ICE.

After the Reverend, Alan Lowenthal, the representative from the 47th Congressional District spoke.

 

 

 

The Democratic congressman was the only local elected official to speak.

No one from the Long Beach City Council, including the Mayor, responded to a request for comment for this story.

Jedi Jimenez speaks, Saturday, June 30, to pro-immigration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Jedi Jimenez speaks, Saturday, June 30, to pro-immigration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Another speaker was Jedi Jimenez, who said he is the chairperson of Anakbayan Long Beach.  According to the Anakbayan-USA website, Anakbayan believes “that Philippine society today is not truly free (sic) nor democratic. It is under the control of U.S imperialism, along with local landlords, big capitalists, and corrupt gov’t (sic) officials.” Jimenez said, “This country (U.S.) has a long history of settling indigenous children to boarding schools, locking away black and brown youth for life sentences. Six thousand Filipinos are forced to leave their homes every single day…to go abroad.”  Jimenez also called for abolishing ICE.

Lian Cheun speaks on Saturday, June 30, to pro-immgration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Lian Cheun speaks on Saturday, June 30, to pro-immgration protesters in Caesar Chavez Park, Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks

Lian Cheun, who is the Executive Director of Khymer Girls in Action, spoke after Jimenez.  The KGA website characterizes itself as “a community-based organization whose mission is to build a progressive and sustainable Long Beach community that works for gender, racial and economic justice led by Southeast Asian young women.”  Cheun, according to the same website, was “(i)n 2014…appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said, “Long Beach has the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia and we came to this country as refugees…Our country (U.S.) has criminalized a lot of acts of survival, a lot acts of poverty in our community….Long Beach City Council finally approved what we know now as the Long Beach Values Act.

“It is a policy that intended to limit our city’s collaboration with ICE and end a role in the deportation of Long Beach residents….However, the city council included certain carve-outs which are loopholes that exclude some immigrants from these protections based off of their past history with the justice system.  These carve-outs mean if an immigrant has one of many particular convictions, city employees will be allowed to turn them over to ICE….There is a…claim that only hardened criminals are being deported and that’s untrue…because we have had folks who have been deported for very minor infractions.”

Cheun also claimed the carve-outs “disproportionally hurt the Cambodian community in Long Beach” and cited ICE statistics that 1,900 Cambodians in the U.S. have deportation orders and more than 1,400 are a result of the carve-outs.
After Cheun spoke, the protesters marched from the park to the Glenn M. Anderson Federal Building, where the protest ended.

 

 

One protester was Jillissa Reuteler.  Reuteler, who said she was from Minnesota and was in Long Beach to go on a cruise, said she decided to go to the protest because one was being planned where she was from.  Echoing what was on her tee-shirt, she said, “Abolish ICE.”

Another protester was Barbara Applerose, who said she has an interior-design business in La Habra.  The separation of children from their parents was personal for Applerose.  When she began to speak, she choked up and began to cry.  In a few short moments, her crying turned to anger.  Applerose said the cries of children being taken from their parents reminded her of when her mother left her once for 10 days.  She said, “I think this (separation of immigrant children from their parents) is so wrong….It makes me sick.  It makes me want to throw up. I don’t understand how our country could allow this to happen.”  Applerose added she thought criminal charges should be filed against President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

 

 

Long Beach Immigration Rally

3 Apr

About 150 people from the Long Beach community, mostly youth of color, on Saturday, March 30 marched from City Hall to Caesar E. Chavez Park in support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Some marchers carried signs, which read, “No human being is illegal.” Another sign some marchers carried said, “This is what an immigrant looks like.”

The Filipino Migrant Center, Miguel Contreras Foundation, Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach, Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and Bienestar (Spanish for wellbeing), which provides HIV prevention services in the LGBT-Latino community, each had a contigent.

One speaker at the park was Uduak Ntuk, from Organizing for Action, who characterized his organization as closely aligned with President Obama, said he was a neighborhood team leader, a second generation immigrant, born in southern California, whose parents’ backgrounds were German, Irish, French and Nigerian. Ntuk said, “Our city has more 125,000 foreign-born residents. The immigrant story is an American story. The immigrant story is a Long Beach story. We all deserve a common sense comprehensive immigration reform, that keeps our families together….The facts are immigrants are a net positive for our country and our community. They are paying more into the system than they are taking out.”

In an email the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, a co-sponsor of the event, sent said the other co-sponsors were Filipino Migrant Center, Coalition for Latino Advancement, Future Underrepresented Educated Leaders, Miguel Contreras Foundation, Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, Standing on the Side of Love, Orange County Dream Team, The Gay and Lesbian Center of Long Beach, Asian and Pacific American Law Center and Organizing for Action.