A group of activists and religious leaders seeking to end what they say is a humanitarian crisis happening at the U.S.-Mexico border rallied outside of San Francisco’s Federal Building on Jan. 11.
As part of the action, the group delivered a letter that has been signed by several Bay Area organizations to the office of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 90 Seventh St.
With a government shutdown that’s now on its fourth week, the group urged Pelosi to stand firm against the demands of President Donald Trump for more border wall funding and for increased immigration enforcement. The group also delivered a pair of boxing gloves to Pelosi as a symbolic gift to encourage her to keep fighting Trump.
“We want her to fight for these people. We want her to remember Felipe, Roxsana; all of the people who have died because of the crisis that he (Trump) has created,” said Kung Feng with Jobs with Justice, referring to two immigrants who have died while in custody with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Roxsana Hernandez, an HIV-positive transgender woman from Honduras who died last May, and Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died on Christmas Eve.
During the rally, several activists held up images of those who have died while in ICE custody.
According to Liliana Esparza of Mujeres Unidas y Activas, most of the migrants crossing the border are being forced to flee from rampant violence and corruption in Central America.
“I hear people saying it’s the families’ fault. But as a mother, we should have the freedom to be able to look for a better life for our children,” she said. “They’re not coming because they want to. Most of them are coming because they want a better life because they are in danger.”
In the letter, the group thanks Pelosi for standing up against Trump, but also urges that she focus on funding health care, housing, education and worker’s rights.
“We encourage you to continue to reject any increases in funding for immigration enforcement and to fight to cut funding that is being used to degrade our moral and legal obligations to protect people from harm,” the letter read.
“We urge you to vigorously pursue cuts to immigration detention and enforcement funds and use the money saved to deal with the urgent problems with working people of America. Congress can do so much better by instead using resources for health care, education and housing needed in our community, and to improve efforts to stop intimidation against working people seeking to engage in collective bargaining, rampant wage theft, and other violations of our nation’s labor laws.”
The letter has been signed by several Bay Area organizations, including the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, the Asian Law Caucus: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Causa Justa Just Cause, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Pangea Legal Services and Service Employees International Union Local 1021, and many others.
Pelosi, speaking from Washington, D.C., called the government shutdown irresponsible and added that Trump was putting in jeopardy the livelihood of some 800,000 federal workers being affected. She maintained that reforming the country’s immigration policy is what’s needed instead of a border wall.
“Comprehensive immigration reform is what this debate should be about. And, quite frankly, when the president talks about this being a national security issue, no, it really isn’t. It’s about a policy that is discriminatory as to where people are coming into this country,” Pelosi said.
Story originally published by Bay City News.