Workers’ Rights and Immigration Reform
Combine for May Day Observances

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News, Politics

Published on May 02, 2009 with 11 Comments

San Franciscans took to the streets Saturday
to rally support for workers’ rights and immigration reform.
Photos by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas

May 2, 2009

Undaunted by inclement weather and fears of Swine Flu contagion, as many as 1500 San Franciscans used the traditional International Labor Day observances yesterday to rally support for workers’ rights and immigration reform.

Several elected officials, labor reps and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10, joined the procession billed as “Workers Without Borders – United in Struggle” at Dolores Park for a speakers rally before marching under rain-drenched skies to Civic Center.

“We need to make sure the City and County and San Francisco remains committed to being a sanctuary city and that the rights of immigrants are protected,” said Supervisor David Campos who, himself, was an undocumented immigrant when, at age 14, he emigrated from Mexico to the US. “We have a local government that is turning over undocumented youth to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and that is unacceptable.”

Supervisor David Campos

According to Campos, Mayor Gavin Newsom has turned his back on the City’s 1989 voter-approved Sanctuary Ordinance that prohibits police and other City agencies from inquiring into immigration status, or providing assistance to federal immigration enforcement authorities unless required by federal or state law, or by warrant.

Newsom’s shift away from protecting undocumented immigrants from federal persecution and racial profiling followed a series of politically explosive San Francisco Chronicle articles that reported the shooting deaths of three family members in the Excelsior District by an undocumented immigrant in June 2008. The articles focused on tying the Bologna family shooting tragedy to the city’s Sanctuary Ordinance with the effect of whipping up anti-immigrant hysteria and generating condemnation of the ordinance.

During a meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee (DCCC) in March, a resolution demanding Newsom redirect law enforcement efforts “away from criminalizing the immigrant community and to uphold constitutional due process laws,” passed overwhelmingly.

But Newsom remained unsympathetic and disputed the resolution’s premise, despite reports of increased traffic stops involving ethnic minorities by local law enforcement following a separate shooting incident in the Mission District.

“Our law enforcement officials do not engage in the conduct alleged by this resolution,” Newsom spokesperson Nathan Ballard said.

Those undocumented immigrants identified during traffic stops who are reported to ICE – whether they have committed a crime or not – have been subsequently deported without trial.

“Early on, our preference was to see if the mayor’s office would do the right thing and change its policy – and we have been trying to work with them to see if they’re open to that,” Campos said during an interview. “At first they indicated that they were, but it’s pretty clear right now to us that they’re not going to change their policy – and because of that, we’re now proceeding to change the policy through legislation.”

Campos said he will be meeting with his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and advocacy groups in the coming days and weeks to hammer out prescriptive legislation to restore the Sanctuary Ordinance provisions and to force Newsom to comply with the law as approved by the electorate.

“It is important for us to make sure that we’re strategic about how we approach this,” Campos continued, “but we think we can put together a legislative solution that makes sense from a policy standpoint, and from a legal standpoint.”

“It’s too bad that it’s going to take legislation, and there was hope that maybe the mayor’s office would reconsider without it, but that’s not where they are right now,” Campos said, adding “You cannot get elected to statewide office without the support of our community, and how the Latino community in San Francisco is being treated will be something the people in Southern California and other parts of the state will want to know, and I think that it’s important for us to keep an eye towards that.”

California State Assemblymember Tom Ammiano told the umbrellaed crowd: “I know that San Francisco is a sanctuary city. I want California to be a sanctuary state.”

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano

And without citing radio personalities Michael Savage and Neal Bortz by name for using the spread of the Swine Flu virus to renew anti-immigrant rhetoric, an animated Ammiano had this to say: “The swines who brought in the flu are not immigrants. Las cochinas who say that people who are not citizens, infect other people – that is total bullshit and hysteria.”


Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Comments for Workers’ Rights and Immigration Reform
Combine for May Day Observances
are now closed.

  1. Today’s Los Angeles times reports that Mexican drug cartels are becoming increasingly dangerous to U.S. forces. The article notes that the cartels have a grip on illegal Mexican immigrants coming into the U.S.

    Accordingly, the U.S. government has issued an advisory to its agents to exert extreme caution in approaching suspected transports of illegal Mexican immigrants. The danger is that the armed narco agents who organize the transports will open fire with high-power weapons.

    It is irresponsible for David Campos to pretend that these problems do not exist.

  2. Today’s Chron reports that young, male Honduran immigrants have been flocking to SF to sell drugs on the streets of mostly poor and at-risk neighborhoods.

    This sort of behavior further destabilizes at-risk neighborhoods. It encourages the growth and power of gangs. It increases male violence.

    It’s irresponsible for David Campos to pretend that these problems do not exist.

  3. Matt, I find it interesting that progressives base much of their rhetoric on the hypocrisy of others, I’m attempting to figure out the thinking of you progressives, a thinking that seems pretty steeped in hypocrisy. I would think that you would be happy to school one of the unrevealed peasants.

    So you accuse me of being lobotomized when I am asking you to explain why their is varied degrees of outrage from the progressive community.

    One thing I find interesting about progressives is that they accuse their enemies of, oh I don’t know, partaking in ad hominems, or for you in lay terms, personal attacks.

    So I asked why the different levels of outrage concerning murder, why does one murder need a whole reworking of the system, while another is just bad luck and anything done to counteract this bad luck is bad?

    One murder according to this web page is a hysteria started by the Chronicle and another is cause for protest and a reworking of the system.

    But I’ll leave you to your personal attacks, best left I suppose to you and the Rush Limbaugh’s and Ann Coulters of the world I suppose.

  4. correction: “petty provocateurs” not “individuals”.

  5. jabber_jabber,

    My very interesting answer: I don’t spar with individuals who have been lobotomized. It’s inhumane.

  6. Matt maybe you could answer something for me, here on FCJ a couple weeks ago I read that some of the cities democrats accused the Chronicle of whipping people into a frenzy and creating a false… outrage, over the killing of the Bolgna family. It seemed to me that was pretty much the “progressive” talking point there.

    I think we can agree that Oscar Grant was wrongly killed by that BART cop, but where the Oscar Grant killing was cited as something by the left, the Bolgna killing was dismissed as a made up outrage. The Grant killer was indicative of something while the Bolgna killing was bad luck?

    Watching the video the cops around the shooter had a WTF look on their faces, so it wasn’t some race based killing as some of more delusional types insist, it was a terrible mistake.

    In the real world I try and not give out motives for what are seemingly contradictory views on events, but well, the history of progressives picking their way through outrage the same way a born againer picks their way through the bible seems to be more of an apt explanation here for the varied views that progressives direct themselves towards common events.

    Meaning, why outrage towards one killing and not another? Is the Bolgna family less dead, does one victim and their family deserve less outrage?

    I would be very interested in your answer as to why the system needs a enama for one killing and not another?

  7. jabber_jabber,

    You have a friend?

  8. Was the Bolgna family discussed at the event? I would hope so, I believe the wife is a member of the teachers union as my friend is a co-worker of hers at a school, I would think her martyr status and union membership would get her to the head of the line.

    Oh, maybe I was thinking of the Oscar Grant Martyr status here, sorry.

  9. Watching the board of supe’s proclamate over cable access the other day, Mirkarimi was singing his own praises again and informing us how much we as a city needed cable access, meanwhile on cable access I was informed that the swing flu like the Aids is a product of the government. “if you don’t see this you are an idiot” I was informed.

    Does Ammiano and Campos know about this latest news break seemingly only broadcast on our “much needed cable access that is the spirit of the city” according to Mirkarimi anyways, does Michael Savage know about this? Those three should get together with their anti-conspiracy tin foil hats to get to the bottom of this.

    Then Campos could have a anti-CIA giving us the flu proclamation at a board meeting adding to the list San Francisco proclamation hilarity.

  10. Supervisor David Campos’s views on the rights of young illegal immigrants are one-sided and a danger to the public safety.

    The local press has reported on young illegal immigrants (males) who got sanctuary status from the city – and also were involved in the murder of San Franciscans.

    The Los Angeles Times and other papers have reported on the growing threat of Mexican drug cartels. Their reach is extending into the U.S. They use young illegal immigrants for their own purposes. They infiltrate gangs and manipulate politicians.

    Campos would be more honest if he recognized these dangers for what they are and put forward a program that not only helps law-abiding immigrants but also protects the public from immigrants who are a danger.

    So far, this balance has eluded Campos.

  11. One of the things that this article doesn’t really address is WHY the people in the march were drawing the connection between immigration reform and the labor struggle. By formally offering amnesty to the undocumented, there will be an extraordinary and powerful influx of workers looking to join unions. I think that this is a major reason — in light of the movement to pass the Employee Free Choice Act — why the major unions have finally got on board.

    It speaks volumes that so many Democrats (i.e. Dianne Feinstein, Harry Reid, Arlen Spector, etc.) are showing their true colors and proving that when such laws have a real chance of getting passed, they balk. I think that many Democrats secretly don’t want to have a veto-proof majority because then they won’t have any more phony reasons (i.e. it’s all because of the Republicans) as to why they can’t get progressive reforms enacted. And the same goes for Obama. He could use his vast popularity to lean on the conservative blue-bitch Democrats.