SF: Emerging Action Against Deportations

Revolutionary Worker #1204, June 22, 2003, posted at rwor.org

On June 13, about 75 people gathered in front of the San Francisco INS office for an emergency press conference and protest to denounce the government's intent to deport 13,000 Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men. The emergency action was sponsored by the ACLU of Northern California, American Muslim Alliance, Amnesty International, Blue Triangle Network, Refuse & Resist!, National Lawyers Guild, and the Pakistan American Democratic Forum and endorsed by many other organizations.

Following are excepts from some of the statements at the press conference.

"Since 9/11 Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians have been suffering the backlash and have lost almost all of their civil liberties and constitutional rights... Our children have been called terrorists at school. Our most venerated men and women have been harassed and abused verbally and physically."

Samina Faheem, American Muslim Alliance/Pakistani American Democratic Forum

"The government must stop targeting innocent people based on their ethnicity and religion. The government must stop disrupting the lives of thousands of innocent immigrant families. The government must stop equating immigrant with terrorist."

Jayashri Srikantiah, American Civil Liberties Union

"I'm speaking today as a Jew whose grandparents had to escape Russia because of the pogroms. I'm speaking as a mother of two children who are haunted by images of the Holocaust...As we stand here we're looking at people who voluntarily went in to special register and now 13,000 of them are facing deportation. It doesn't feel that different to me than the Jews who went and got their yellow stars and then had to walk into the gas ovens. Never again!"

Riva Enteen, Program Director,National Lawyers Guild

"What is happening with the deportation of 13,000 individuals is wrong, unjust, immoral. I'm here as an American citizen to stand by my sisters and brothers and say this is not right. My parents, my aunts and uncles, my grandparents were all interned during World War 2. They voluntarily cooperated with the U.S. government thinking that they would get fair treatment. They were thrown into concentration camps in the middle of the desert."

Reverend John Oda, Pine United Methodist Church

"With the exception of North Korea, special registration policy focused only on Muslim and Arab countries. This was an outright act of racial profiling, leaving one with the presumption that the U.S. government advocates such practices."

Mathew Van Saun, Amnesty International

"On January 10, inspired by the brave stand taken by the Iranian community in Los Angeles, hundreds of people gathered here to denounce the special registration and the detentions that accompanied them.... One of the speakers that day said, `We are not stopping until we have hundreds in front of hundreds saying you have to go through us to get to them.'... The challenge before us is this: to find a way to take this sentiment and broaden it through society and make it a force that can defy this whole repression. We have to create a climate and culture of resistance, such that attacks on these communities or any community is not tolerated."

Ben Allen, Blue Triangle Network

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