About 400 protesters took to the streets in Santa Ana on May 1, drumming, chanting and stopping traffic for more than three hours while raising awareness of immigrant rights.
The march, which looped around Santa Ana’s civic center and through major streets, was the official kick off for the Orange County May Day Coalition campaign urging Santa Ana Police officials to end the Secure Communities contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Secure Communities requires local police to detain and transfer those who entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas to the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is a business deal for the city,” Hairo Cortes, a member of the O.C. Dream Team said, adding that SAPD’s enforcement of Secure Communities is voluntary.
The May Day march is a tradition in Santa Ana, but the original struggle for labor rights has turned into a fight for immigrant rights, said Scott Sink, who helped organize the event.
Amid blaring police sirens and beating drums, protesters hollered at onlookers to join in the movement, all while chanting “undocumented, unafraid!”
Few protesters are untouched by Secure Communities.
A Garden Grove elementary school teacher counts at least three people she knows who have been deported, one of which is the father of one of her students.
“Now the kids are forced to live with their mother in a hotel room,” Rosie Wolfrum said.
Alex Madrigal, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps nicknamed “Grave Walker” for his work with the funeral honor guard says the first four fallen soldiers he carried home were not legal citizens.
“My family was thrown out of here to Mexico, and that’s what’s happening now to these children,” says Madrigal. “I’m 47 years old and I still see the discrimination.”
The protesters rallied at Sasscer Park encouraging members of the community to attend the city council meeting May 6 urging civic leaders to end the contract between ICE and SAPD.