The head of the migra attended the Pomona College graduation to receive an honorary law degree, as well as to orate during the ceremony. But despite her having been invited by the institution, students, professors, and members of the community did not comply.
At eight o'clock, people, among them, Pomona College workers, whose current struggle is to unionize, warehouse workers, supermarket workers, day laborers, students, teachers, community members, human rights defenders, and numerous anarchists arrived at the Greyhound station, which has been the site of several Border Patrol raids. There agents have detained passengers from the bus line without any probable cause.
At the initial convergence, a provocateur from the anti-immigrant Minutemen arrived, but the people refused to be provoked. The march, which was undertaken without any other issues, went up Indian Hill, so called for an indigenous community that once resided in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, until arriving in the neighborhood that borders the college.
Once before the plaza where the graduation was taking place, the crowd took the steps and entryway of a building with a Greek façade to display their banners and lift their chants.
"Hey hey! What do we say? Immigrants are here to stay!" ¡"Sí se puede!" "¡Legalización!"
On the sidewalk in front of the Pomona College campus, a contingent of the most disreputable sector of society, the migrant hunters, had set up a protest, also against Napolitano. "For once we agree on something!" a comrade joked. But the agreement ended there. "We're here to protest Janet Napolitano for her complicity in allowing what's happening across the street to occur on America's soil. We're here to send a message to Janet Napolitano that the American people won't tolerate her, Barack Obama, and their form of government. One thing I find intolering [sic] about them is right across the street, how they can allow criminal illegal aliens onto American soil to displace American workers and the American dream from the American people," he gibbered.
His statement lays bare the hypernationalism, which is a progenitor of fascism, that the resistance has been exposing for some time, and which is an attribute of anti-immigrant groups that has given rise to openly-fascist demonstrations such as those we have seen in recent months.
On the other hand, those on the other side of the street sent a strong message of interethnic and international solidarity. A UFCW worker explained, "I think that it's unfair, I think it's not the answer, it's not the solution to what's going on in Arizona. I think it's only gonna lead to more people getting harassed and mistreated. We're human beings, and we're not different. We're all alike. We've got a common humanity, we gotta acknowledge that."
While the crowd demonstrated outside, the resistance also showed its strength inside the ceremony. Most of the Pomona professors wore white stoles to symbolize their solidarity with the immigrant community, as did many of the graduating students. About then, a small group of students infiltrated the ceremony, and in dead silence, unfurled a large banner reading "Alto AZ
." They reported that inside, the drums and tumult of the protest were audible.
The procession left the steps and proceeded to Shelton Park, where the Jornaleros del Norte played and various speakers lectured. Emilio shared some words of welcome, and was followed by Loyda, who read a communiqué from the director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network that said:
"Napolitano's part of the Obama government is tearing families apart. She is disrupting and victimizing entire communities across the country. But no matter what they do, they cannot break our spirits. Yes, there is fear and anger. But most importantly, there is courage to resist. People across the country from all walks of life are in solidarity with Arizona. We know that in order to implement the SB 1070 bill, Arizona will need the cooperation of the Obama administration. This is the moment for President Obama to eradicate the mechanisms and programs that give the authority for police to enforce immigration law."
The intercollegial department of Latino and Chicano studies also sent a communiqué in favor of human rights and in support of humane immigration reform.
Afterwards, Connie from the UFCW told the story of a 1200-worker plant in Texas that was raided by ICE. "A plant in Texas, 1200 employees at that plant. ICE agents came in. They had warrants for 133 people. A hundred and thirty-three people that they thought might be in the country illegally. Instead of going to the human resources department and asking to pull these people aside so they could talk to them, they arrested every single person working that day. Twelve-hundred and forty-seven people. That means over a thousand legal residents or United States citizens were arrested. This is wrong! It's all wrong!"
Angélica Salas, director of CHIRLA, was next: "So, we now have a tradition here in California, that basically started in Santa Clara University, when Janet Napolitano went there. And she was received there with a thousand people, telling her that she was not welcome in California if she was gonna keep ripping apart our families. If she was going to keep deporting hard workers. And if she was going to violate the ideals of justice and equality that she's supposed to stand for."
Dilma, a representative of Warehouse Workers United, spoke next. "I'm a warehouse worker, and I'm here to represent everyone who could not come today. The truth is that I've been a worker. I'm not what they say about us Latinos, that we come to ask the government to take care of us. It's not true. I have always struggled, I've been here for 20 years and I've always gotten by. That's why I tell you all, fellow workers, that we must fight together because it can be done, yes comrades, we can fight!"
The next speaker was Cristián, a Pomona College worker. "I come to represent the members of the group Workers for Justice, which like many organizations, has fought to have our rights respected. We've been in this struggle for two years, and we're going to keep it up until our rights are respected and we're treated properly."
José, a delegate of the Inland Empire Day Laborer Congress, followed. "Today is a day of resistance, of struggle for all the women of conscience, for all the men, too, who on this fine day have come to tell Janet Napolitano, in a loud voice of protest, that we do not agree with the continual theft of the future of our children. Every member of our families have witnessed the kidnapping of our cousins. Our nephews and nieces have practically--and technically--been left orphans without receiving any assistance. For this reason we are here today, to denounce this criminal policy which actually goes beyond the Río Grande, with its grand waters, nor the scorching desert, nor the immensity of the ocean, has been able to separate that love the immigrant comrade has for his wife and who has his family here, beautiful and unified. And these criminals from immigration services come and separate them. What right do they have? Don't these gentlemen also have families? Don't they have a wife waiting for them? What will they tell her when she asks, 'What did you do today?' How can that police officer or that immigration agent show his face when he has to answer, 'How can I hide what's in the depths of my heart? Today, I separated some families'? What a nice job President Obama is doing after he used our community to take power, and now he's being manipulated by Nazi groups, like those in Arizona. What's happening in Arizona is a true danger, not just for our community residing in the State of Arizona, but for all of humanity. It must be understood thus. Because the senators who pushed these laws are Nazis. Arpaio is a Nazi. The Minutemen are Nazis in another mask, disguised Klan that has resurfaced. That's why all the women, children, and men who are here are repudiating this criminal policy that does nothing to ensure the safety of this country. Supposedly they are defending security, but what great security when they are destroying the future of the smallest of these lands! As a day worker, we've fallen victim to raids. They've taken our comrades away. The police constantly harass the corners. Sometimes they ask for our IDs, and when we give them to them, they often keep them. So I believe that these types of policies are unacceptable because they violate the human rights we all share. And my invitation to you as a day laborer is that we remain united, that we continue resisting, and also that from this site of resistance we send a loud and warm greeting to the resistance in Arizona, because we are all Arizona, and together we continue until the final victory, and for the right to live in peace. I have spoken."
Before ending with more music, Professor Calderón spoke about the new "Secure Communities" program and an invitation was made to the national day of action for Arizona on May 29th. Thousands are expected to arrive to combat this assault on our community.