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“If Today I Go To My Country, Tomorrow I Will Be Killed”: Central American Refugees Protest Outside SF ICE

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Yesterday, dozens of demonstrators from multiple Bay Area immigrant and faith groups protested outside ICE’s San Francisco headquarters in response to recent immigration raids across the country.

Among protesters were several Central American refugees who spoke about the immense danger facing them if they are deported to the gang-plagued area. Just yesterday, the New York Times reported that the murder rate in El Salvador was up 70%, “resulting in a homicide rate that could make it the world’s most violent country.”

From the Mission Local: 

“They don’t care if when they deport you they leave your family, leave yours kids without [a father], they’re just doing their job,” said Ernesto Reinoso, an asylum-seeker who was detained for six months before winning his case. He was joined by a handful of other recent immigrants, most asylum-seekers from Central America who spoke to the dangers of being sent back to their home countries. “My family and I were threatened with our lives and now we are afraid of returning to our countries,” said Marvin Franco, an asylum-seeker from El Salvador. 

“I want to tell President Obama today to not deport us. If today I go to my country, tomorrow I will be killed.”

The protest was supported by several of the city’s elected officials, including Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos. Campos slammed the Obama Administration for stoking fears among immigrant communities, particularly in the immigrant-rich Mission and Excelsior neighborhoods in San Francisco: 

Supervisor David Campos, who was not at the rally but spoke to the issue over the phone, condemned the Obama administration for the raids and urged the administration to focus on passing “comprehensive immigration reform” instead of conducting a crackdown. “It’s pretty scary that something like this could go on, and that it’s Barack Obama of all people pushing for it,” Campos said. He said this action would only serve to “solidify Obama’s record as Deporter-in-Chief,” and said he hoped the immigration agency would not conduct raids in San Francisco or the Mission District.

“We don’t need ICE to come into a neighborhood like the Mission and be as destructive as they have been in the past,” he said.

Supervisor Avalos echoed the statement:

“…There is terror in our streets, in San Francisco, in San Jose, in Los Angeles,” said Supervisor John Avalos, the representative of the Excelsior. He connected the recent wave of migrants from Central America to actions by the United States in the region in the 1980s, and said the same people affected then are now being targeted for deportation. “Now they want to deport the very people who have made a life here.”

I came here to denounce the Obama administration,” Avalos continued. “This is not moving the nation forward. This will only cause pain and suffering.”

Last weekend, Bay Area faith leaders also protested outside West County Detention Center in Richmond, California:

According to a news release, the protesters believe that raids would target “traumatized families whose cases were rushed through an unjust, conveyer belt-style process, often without legal counsel, basic information about their rights, or adequate information about the hearing schedule.”