Unprecedented raids in Arizona coupled with a failure of the Obama Administration to spell out its stance on immigration reform are fueling unease in Latino communities around the county. In San Antonio, those twin forces of intimidation and uncertainty will likely inspire more than a few of the marchers expected to gather at Milam Park (also known as Plaza del Zacate) on May 1 for International Worker's Day.
Jaime Martinez, national treasurer for the League of United Latin American Citizens, compared the climate in Arizona today to that of the early Nazi regime in Germany.
“I'm seeing a move to militarization of the Mexican border. I'm seeing a move to violate the Constitution, and human, and civil rights of the immigrant families,” Martinez said.
Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swept into four Arizona communities in a coordinated raid as part of “Operation in Plain Sight.” It was billed as the largest dragnet operation in ICE's history and involving more than 800 agents from a variety of agencies.
Though it targeted shuttle-van operators thought to be a key element in illegal human trafficking operations in the region, several human-rights groups complained the raids created ripples of fear throughout the migrant community â?? especially as it came after passage of an Arizona law that would allow police in the state to use “reasonable suspicion” as cause to request proof of citizenship.
“I'm calling all the organizations â?? LULAC, labor, civil rights â?? to write to President Obama to sign an executive order to stop the deportations, to stop the raids, to stop the separation of families,” Martinez said. “Sooner or later, they'll be knocking on my front door and asking for my papers. We can not get into that environment in America.”
In a prepared release, Christian Ramirez of the American Friends Service Committee said “entire communities were terrified by the war-type operations they suffered in their neighborhoods. â?¦ If the Administration is serious about getting to the root of the immigration dilemma, Obama should change U.S. trade policies.”
This year's May Day March in San Antonio is being called a “Day of National Unity for Immigration Reform NOW!” Plead your case by gathering at Milam Park at noon on May 1. The march is scheduled for 2 p.m.
For more information, call the Cesar E. Chavez Legacy Educational Foundation at 226.2301.