2,000 PROTESTERS URGE FAULCONER TO DECLARE SAN DIEGO A SANCTUARY CITY

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Reprinted from Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

February 19, 2017 (San Diego) -- Hoping to persuade Mayor Kevin Faulconer to declare San Diego a sanctuary city, an estimated 2,000 protesters marched through downtown streets Saturday.

“We want to tell (President Donald) Trump and people that we are going to march in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” said Mohamed Abdallah of Activist San Diego at the March in Solidarity with Immigrants.

“We want to show strength, unity and love until a difference is made,” Abdallah told Times of San Diego in front of the County Administration Center.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher told a crowd of efforts in Sacramento to make California a “sanctuary state.”

“What is happening right now in our country is not acceptable,” she said. “It’s not what American has ever been about. We will not act as immigration officials.”

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said President Trump and others would like to deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“We say: Not in my America,” he said. In Los Angeles, at least 2,500 demonstrators gathered at the park across from Los Angeles City Hall to protest President Trump’s immigration agenda.

“We say no to a ban, yes to building bridges,” Villaraigosa said at San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Speaking in English and in Spanish, the Los Angeles mayor from 2005 to 2013 said: “We have come as Americans from every hue, from every country that we are one. We are one in our value — of humanity that bring us together based on our talent. It’s not where we come from or who we pray to. That’s who we are.”

Antonio Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles, spoke to the crowd gathered in front of the San Diego County Administration Center. Photo by Chris Stone

He introduced a dreamer: Maren Ramos, a student at downtown’s King-Chavez Community High School.

She fought back tears.

“I will not sit back and watch tyranny unfold,” Ramos said before the march to the downtown Edward J. Schwartz Federal Office Building.

Imam Taha Hassane of the Islamic Center of San Diego called himself an immigrant who “fell in love with America.”

“The members of my community work very hard like everyone who makes American great,” he said. “Muslims have been here since the beginning of this nation, including those who were brought over as slaves. So when they say to ban Muslims, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Saying bigotry, racism and oppression should not take place “in our land,” Hassane called for unity in the battle for immigrants.

“If we as Muslims fight alone by ourselves and our Latino brothers and sisters fight alone by themselves and every minority fights alone by itself, we are going to fail,” he said. “This is an intersection of fight. We have to stand together.”

Facebook events pages in English and Spanish had rallied the marchers, saying: “While [San Diego] has the busiest border crossing in the world, Mayor Faulconer has taken no action to protect immigrants against Trump’s policies.”

“The time is now. We stand with those who are afraid and those who have been marginalized by Trump’s executive orders. Immigration shapes how the world views America,” said event organizers.

The group’s demands include that San Diego’s Mayor Kevin Faulconer declare San Diego a Sanctuary city to protect immigrants and refugees. They also asked him to endorse SB 54, the California Values Act, to prevent state and local law enforcement from working with federal immigration authorities, according to the Facebook post.

One of the march chants included, “No somos una, no somos cien, somos millones de inmigrantes.” In English: “We are not one, we are not hundreds, we are millions of immigrants.”

In January, Faulconer skipped the president’s inauguration and has staked out an economic position that seems at odds with Trump’s stances on Mexico.

Earlier this month he met with Tijuana’s Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum to reaffirm the San Diego-Tijuana partnership amid great national tension.

“We are promising that if Mayor Faulconer takes a soft stance on protecting the hard working immigrants and refugees that live in his own city, he will have no political future in San Diego or California,” continued the Facebook post.

Immigration advocates have criticized the mayor for not taking more assertive, direct actions to protect immigrants from a hostile federal government.

San Diego march organizers said a March 25 rally to support immigrants would take place from 3 to 6 p.m. at the San Ysidro border crossing.

— Times Contributing Editor Cassia Pollock contributed to this report.