Protesters target Murrieta Border Patrol office

Luz Gallegos speaks at a news conference in front of the the Border Patrol station in Murrieta on Monday, March 4. Activists are calling for a nationwide moratorium on raids and deportations.

Published: March 04, 2013; 04:38 PM

Inland immigration-rights activists picketed the Murrieta U.S. Border Patrol office on Monday, March 4, in a protest against what they say are raids on day-laborer sites and random stops of Latino workers.
The activists, representing several organizations, called for an end to all deportations while talks on immigration reform continue in Washington, D.C.
“What do we want? Justice. When? Now,” the group of about 30 chanted.
Participants said the alleged Border Patrol detentions of day laborers violate the Obama administration’s stated emphasis on focusing enforcement efforts on those who commit serious crimes and repeat violators of immigration laws.
“The majority of these workers are not criminals, repeat, not criminals,” said Moises Escalante, of Pueblo de Fe United for Worker Justice, an Inland faith-based group that advocates for immigrant and low-wage workers. “All they work and strive for is to provide food for their families.”
Border Patrol spokesman Jerome Conlin said the agency was “looking into (the speakers’ allegations) to see if there is a response.”
Speakers said Border Patrol agents target sites in front of Home Depot stores and other locations where day laborers wait for work, even though agents do not have evidence that those they are questioning are in the country illegally.
They also look for Latino workers who are in vehicles carrying construction and gardening equipment and ask them for their papers, said Jose Daniel Guzman, legal resources coordinator for Justice for Immigrants Coalition of Inland Southern California, which includes the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino, immigrant-rights groups and labor unions.
Guzman and several others approached the fenced entrance to the Border Patrol station to ask about making a formal complaint against the raids and alleged threats made against a detainee and were told by an agent to fill out a complaint online.
In January, after an immigration-rights protest in Home Gardens, Conlin said the agency doesn’t target day laborers unless, for example, there’s a warrant indicating a criminal may be in a specific location.