January 10: L.A. Protest Denounces Immigrant Registration

Revolutionary Worker #1185, February 2, 2003, posted at http://rwor.org

In mid-December 2002, the U.S. government ordered men over 16 from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, and Libya with non-resident visas to report to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for "special registration"--to be photographed, fingerprinted, and interrogated. Hundreds who showed up to be registered were arrested. Most of the arrests were in southern California.

On January 10--the deadline for registration for men from 13 additional Arab and Muslim countries-- a wide range of organizations in Los Angeles stepped forward to oppose special registrations and detentions. People were in front of the downtown INS office from 7 a.m., acting as "human rights monitors" to advise immigrants of their rights and to make sure no one "disappeared" during registration.

Refuse and Resist! pulled together a wide range of organizations for a morning press conference: Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Not In Our Name (NION), Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN), Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress (NCRR), South Asian Network, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 535.

Another press conference featured Ramona Ripston of the ACLU of Southern California and Iraqi- American immigration lawyer Ban Al-Wardi. Rev. Al Sharpton also spoke to reporters later in the day. (See "Coast-to-Coast Protests Defend Arab and Muslim Immigrants" in RW #1183 for reports of protests in other cities.)

The following are brief excerpts from several speakers at the R&R! press conference.


Hamid Khan, Director, South Asian Network:

This is a part of a long-standing pattern of immigrant bashing that has been a part of our history for the longest time. It's patently reminiscent of the Japanese internments. It's patently reminiscent of "Operation Wetback." It's patently reminiscent of the Chinese Exclusion Act. It's patently reminiscent of the Alien and Sedition Act.... We strongly condemn these policies, and we demand an immediate end to these injustices.

Kathy Masaoka, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress:

Our grandfathers, over a thousand of them, were rounded up after Pearl Harbor by the FBI without any charges and taken away to places where their families didn't know where they were going for several months. Our community was put under a curfew and not allowed to travel beyond a certain limit after Pearl Harbor, until they were interned. My parents and over 100,000 Japanese Americans were rounded up and put into camps in ten different places in this country, without charges. Nobody was ever found guilty of any kind of crimes. We have a responsibility as Japanese Americans to remember our history and also to tell people that this can happen again. We cannot let this happen again.

Bob McClosky, SEIU Local 535:

What's happening in this period is a violation of civil rights, and a violation of human rights. It's up to trade unionists to stand up for the rights of immigrants and the rights of people who are here in this country trying to find a better life.

Angela Sanbrano, CARECEN:

INS announced today that they are going to "improve" the special registration program. That's not good enough. We want them to stop the program. Racial profiling in the United States is illegal. And that's exactly what the special registration program is doing, racially profiling Middle Eastern men.

Brady, NION:

What they're trying to do is strike fear into these people, squash their dissent, and keep them from speaking out. Not In Our Name views these detentions as unjust, immoral, and a blatant form of racial profiling that imitates the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War 2. We must stand together and say to people that this government will not carry out these policies in our name.

Carol Brightman, R&R!:

This is one of those moments in history that determines whether we will let the government pick off groups one at a time, with us all being led like sheep to the slaughter, or whether people will take a stand and say, "This has gone too far. It stops here." We in Refuse and Resist! pledge to live up to our name. We will stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters who are under attack and reach out to the millions in this country who are not currently the victims of U.S. government terror but are profoundly uneasy about the direction things are going in. Together we will stop the wartime police state.

Angélica Salas, CHIRLA:

The human and the civil rights of immigrants and of refugees have been trampled on, especially after September 11. We have seen countless immigrants who have been victims of many of the post-9/11 policies... I have seen children who have cried because their parents were detained. I have seen people who are losing their homes because the breadwinner was detained. I and people from these other organizations have to hear the human tragedy of these policies.... The Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles stands with our brothers and sisters who are Muslims, Arabs, Filipino, Latino. We are saying: Enough of these policies!

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