Monday, June 14, 2004

AP Wire | 06/14/2004 | Hundreds protest sweeps targeting illegal immigrants in Southern California

Posted on Mon, Jun. 14, 2004

Hundreds protest sweeps targeting illegal immigrants in Southern California

Associated Press

ONTARIO, Calif. - Hundreds of protesters marched through San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties in opposition to a federal crackdown on illegal immigration resulting in 160 arrests.

As many as 1,000 demonstrators hoisted signs and shook maracas while trekking from Ontario to Pomona on Sunday, accusing immigration authorities of unfairly targeting Hispanic communities.

"Why are they targeting Latinos?" Abel P. Medina, an organizer and member of Hermanidad Mexicano Nacional Ontario, said during the march. "We haven't received any numbers (showing) they have arrested any Canadians or any Europeans."

U.S. Border Patrol agents have stopped people on streets and coming off buses in Corona and Ontario, cities far from the Mexican border. Most of those arrested were Mexican, with a few from other Latin American countries, authorities said.

Border Patrol officials said the raids are part of an ongoing effort against illegal immigration and have led arrests in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

"Traditionally, this is a job we've done before," said Sean Isham, spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol, San Diego Sector.

Before the march began, Rev. Luis Angel Nieto gave an address in Spanish calling for new immigration policies.

"We urge our president to continue negotiations concerning immigration issues," he said. "To achieve a more generous, just and humane system of immigration for our countries."

Wendy Canales, a U.S. citizen born in Honduras, said she turned out to voice support for illegal immigrants arriving from around the world.

"We're out here to fight for our people," Canales said. "Not just Latinos, but anybody who's here illegally. Whether they're from Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean."

Similar sweeps have been conducted in Texas and elsewhere in the Southwest, authorities said.

Local police said they were not involved in the sweeps, which have frightened some people in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods.


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