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Sunday, June 27, 2004

NBC 4 - News - Protesters Demonstrate Against Immigration Arrests

NBC 4 - News - Protesters Demonstrate Against Immigration Arrests

Protesters Demonstrate Against Immigration Arrests
Arrests Produce Racial Profiling Allegations

POSTED: 6:50 pm PDT June 26, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- Chanting pro-immigrant slogans and carrying handwritten signs with messages such as "We Do The Hard Work," hundreds of people marched through a mostly Hispanic section of downtown Saturday to protest a series of recent Border Patrol arrests of illegal immigrants.

More than 420 arrests this month by a Border Patrol unit based in Temecula have produced fear among immigrants and allegations of racial profiling.

The Border Patrol said the unit has not arrested anyone in Los Angeles County and does not have the resources to do so, but many of the protesters Saturday were not convinced.

"There's more important things the government should take care of, like terrorism," said Tomas Nava, who came to Los Angeles from Mexico 10 years ago and hopes to become a U.S. citizen. "I have some sisters that are afraid to go to work."

Nava, who works in a shipping company and attends college classes at night, said workers are afraid of being deported and separated from their families. He has a work permit but worries about what would happen to his daughter and girlfriend if it expired, he said.

Angelina Casillas-Corona, president of the immigrant advocacy group Hermandad Los Angeles, said people targeted in the raids are only looking for better lives.

"Their only crime is looking for a job, having a job in another country," she said.

Border Patrol officials said they have received many letters and calls of support from the public about the Temecula-based Mobile Patrol Group, which consists of 12 agents who roam across 3,000 square miles.

More than half of their arrests this month were in the Escondido area of northern San Diego County. There have also been arrests in Ontario and Corona.

The Department of Homeland Security said the arrests were legal but violated policy because they were done without advanced authorization from headquarters.

Undersecretary of Homeland Security Asa Hutchinson said he would review the activities of agents who carried out the raids. His spokeswoman, Suzanne Luber, said no disciplinary action was expected.

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