Revolution #108, November 11, 2007

From the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium

Harassed, Denied Food and Shelter, Threatened with Deportation

The following is an excerpt from an Oct. 26 press release from the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) about the treatment of immigrants and others at the Qualcomm stadium:

This morning, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis congratulated law enforcement for eradicating freeloaders from the stadium and stated that no evacuees would be allowed into the stadium without identification. Pursuant to an agreement…the SDIRC was allowed to set up a table inside the stadium between FEMA and Border Patrol. Half a dozen families approached the table stating that they had slept in the parking lot during the night as they had for several nights and when they attempted to enter, they were asked for their IDs. At least one family member in each family was undocumented and were intimidated. One evacuee, after failing to produce an ID, was asked what his immigration status was by a volunteer, then threatened that he might be arrested if immigration officials approached. The undocumented members were let in only because they had other family members who could show a license, a “green card,” a consular ID card, or an address. All homeless persons were turned away. No address, no service. All persons who failed to show any of the above and did not have a documented family member were turned away.

Another half dozen individuals informed us that they had been detained and questioned by police in the parking lot or while exiting the stadium for allegedly looting or taking more than their fair share of free donated items. Families were asked to count heads for all the blankets in their possession. Some families were taking items back to family members who were too scared to come in. In one instance, police put orange cones around a car until it was “cleared.” Towards the end of the day, families with undocumented members were afraid to leave or afraid to take any food or blankets with them for fear of being detained and deported, since they were doing no different than the family deported yesterday. We escorted some of them out.

It should be noted that it was not just immigrants, but other persons of color who were harassed and suspected of looting. An African American woman was harassed for making two trips with a baby stroller filled with items (I witnessed this one). She attempted to register a complaint with the police officer in charge who treated her poorly and refused to process a complaint. We took a written statement. She was so upset by the end of the day and afraid to leave with anything else, that she told me she was headed back to Oklahoma (she had only recently moved). A Filipino volunteer who had been helping people day and night was thrown out for making two trips out to cars, both times to assist people to their cars. The officer threatened to tazer him and charge him with trespassing. When the volunteer coordinator tried to intervene on behalf of the star volunteer, he was pushed out of the way. After the incident he was told not to talk to anyone. We filmed the incident and tried to talk to the volunteer coordinator, but he had recently survived deportation proceedings and was so scared (in part because he did not have his green card on him) that he considered walking away from his job right then and there. Another Latina woman was denied diapers for her baby because she was told there were none. She stepped aside and then watched as a white woman asked for the same size of diapers and was given them. The woman was upset and only successfully acquired diapers when Pedro from American Friends Service Committee went with her to ask. When I left today, there was a mountain (possibly 1,000 bags) of diapers. There was also a mountain of donated items that could have served 10 times the number of people left in the stadium. The whole afternoon, we watched white evacuees take cases of water and other large loads to their cars without being questioned.

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