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Sanctuary City, National City

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2006 at 5:10 AM

Hundreds of residents of the small community of National City outside San Diego proudly celebrated their new sanctury city, a refuge for the foreign-born, free from profiling and discrimination.

Sanctuary City, Nati...
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NATIONAL CITY, CA, 30 September 2006--National City, population 55,000 and just a few miles from the Mexico-U.S. border, valiantly proclaimed itself a sanctuary for immigrants on Wednesday, and on Saturday 350 residents headed to the city hall complex to celebrate.  The noontime event opened with an ecumenical prayer, including Catholic, Buddhist, and Quaker religious leaders.  Attendees broke into cheers when the proclamation was carried out of city hall to the crowd.

On the prior evening, the U.S. Congress had authorized 700 more miles of border fence, increasing tenfold the wall of despair that has taken 4030 lives according to official reports in the twelve years since it was built.  Workers who provide aid to border crossers fear the actual number may be as high as 10,000.  But National City today thumbed its nose at Congress and skipped through the streets.  It had declared itself a haven for people of foreign descent, even as the federal government intensifies mass roundups and deportations, and neighboring cities legitimate ethnic profiling.

The proclamation, signed by Mayor Nick Inzunza, adds National City to a roster that includes big cities:  San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and small:  Maywood, Pomona, Huntington Park, Coachella--cities and townships that have decided to leave immigration enforcement to federal authorities.  Inunza elaborated in a letter to the San Diego Union Tribune, "I hope that my residents who I was elected to represent feel that they will not be harassed, not allowed to stand on the streets and look for work or kicked out of a neighborhood canyon."  He pointed directly to the registration of city day laborers and their employers in Vista and a pending ordinance to ban renting to undocumented immigrants in Escondido as actions that will not be tolerated in National City.  

U.S. communities are dividing the nation into immigrant-friendly zones, including the cities above along with New York City, Houston, and Cambridge, MA, and anti-immigrant outposts, including Riverside, NJ, Hazleton, PA, and Valley Park, MO.  Around the nation, city councils are deciding where people of foreign descent will live.  Towns with a long history of accommodating immigrants are reinforcing their heritage, while cities with newer migrant populations are rejecting cultural diversity as they drive residents and businesses out. 

Standing proudly with National City and the sanctuary movement on Saturday were the American Friends Service Committee, Bienestar, Gente Unida, Border Angels, Sí Se Puede, Unión del Barrio, MEChA, and United for Peace and Justice, and Peace and Freedom.  They were joined by students from Southwestern College, San Diego State, UCSD, and USC.  Also appearing were the Boredom Patrol of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army.

The sanctuary movement organizers promised that National City was just the first in a campaign to line up safe havens.

The day wouldn't have been complete without the obligatory appearance of a contingent of minutemen.  Jim Gilchrist, head of the Minuteman Project, had promised 400 minutemen would converge on National City for today's protest, but on 78 showed up, according to event organizers.  The motley crew of "patriots" waved their flags and apparently were shouting to the celebrators across the street, although mostly they were drowned out.  Sixty or more police lined both sides of the street, and a contingent of horse-mounted police waited to one side.  A slightly larger minuteman demonstration last week in National City had ended with sanctuary supporters being pepper sprayed by minutemen and one minuteman arrest.  This time there were no incidents and no arrests.  At 1:30 p.m., the police escorted the minutemen to their cars.  A lone grey-bearded minuteman re-appeared a few minutes later, but he scurried off as the police marched out.

The festive crowd marched and sometimes danced the four block up National City Boulevard from City Hall to the County Board of Education, singing, chanting, waving banners and flags, drumming, and playing guitars.  At the plaza, speakers addressed the crowd.  Cristian Ramirez of the Friends Service Committee warned the group that, "The media says the African-American community is the enemy of the Mexican community.  That the Mexican community is the enemy of the African-American community."  He went on: "We are telling the truth today: we have more in common than divides us.  We have system that enslaves and kills us, that wants to divide us."

Cars honking horns and waving huge Mexican flags drove past the plaza as Ramirez told of a National City family that went to J. C. Penney only to be dragged out, handcuffed, sat on the curb, and deported by local police.  "Their only crime was that they bought a pair of pants, and they were Mexican."

Under the shadow of the now-authorized border wall, Ramirez brought the point home:  "Today's victory has to be defended by the power of the people.  With the power of the people, we are invincible.  We have the ability to win.  We must see ourselves as victors, not as defeated.  We are the color of justice, of true democracy--of people's democracy."

"We are going to win."

He was followed by Enrique Morones of Border Angels.  This crowd didn't need his reminder that "the minuteman movement is still alive."  "This is a long struggle," he warned.  "We ask for human rights, nothing more, nothing less."

Ramirez returned to the microphone and concluded, "Speak to your children of what you did today.  Talk to your neighbors. Make this part of your history: today in National City a group of valiant men and women, different races, different religions, came together to defend dignity."

Several of us ended up a local coffee shop.  The owner told us that, after last week's event, a crowd of minutemen had "terrorized" his business, harassing and cursing his employees.  Today, a single minuteman showed up, vociferously insisting that National City was violating federal law.  After patiently listening to the guy's rants, the owner proudly announced that this business supports the policies of National City.


City of National City

WHEREAS, the City of National City is made up of immigrants who were born all over the world, including our city council, our police department, and our business owners, who intentions are to live, work and pursue happiness under the protection of the Constitution of the United States, the State of California and the City of National City; 

WHEREAS, the City of National City conducts its city council meetings, community meetings, public notices in different languages to further integrate and accommodate our immigrants to their municipal government; 

WHEREAS, the city council of National City has accepted the Matricular Consular as an official identification of National City; and has officially denounced federal efforts to make it a felony for churches, community groups and non-profits to aid immigrants;

WHEREAS, the Mayor of National City has denounced any efforts by private citizens, politicians or government employees that attempt to break constitutional law and violate the civil liberties of our residents;

WHEREAS, the Mayor of National City rejects the hysteria being created to align immigrants with terrorists, homeland security, or any other threat to our nation;

WHEREAS, the people of National City have raised the awareness that human rights must be protected by all of us and not violate our liberties in National City or anywhere in the county; 

WHEREAS, the Mayor of National City declares National City an American city that protects and respects all residents which is protected under the rule of law; 

THEREFORE, as Mayor, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the City of National City, do hereby proclaim the City of National City:

A Sanctuary for Immigrants

I call upon all residents of National City to support this effort on this 27th day of September, 2006.

(signed) Nick Inzunza


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the Boredom Patrol of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army and friends

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2006 at 5:10 AM

the Boredom Patrol o...
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more parading

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2006 at 5:10 AM

more parading...
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no pasaran

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2006 at 5:10 AM

no pasaran...
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at the plaza

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2006 at 5:10 AM

at the plaza...
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the proclamation

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Oct. 03, 2006 at 5:10 AM

the proclamation...
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