Posted on July 23, 2004

Immigrant Sweep Backers To Rally

Elizabeth Brotherton, The Press-Enterprise (CA), Jul. 21

Supporters of recent Border Patrol sweeps of undocumented immigrants will host a rally Saturday morning at the Border Patrol office in Temecula as a thank you to the agency.

The rally was organized in response to a pro-undocumented immigrant rally held June 28 at the Temecula station. About 30 protesters showed up for that event.

The Murrieta/Temecula Republican Assembly and the Temecula Valley Republican Women Federated are sponsoring the rally, which is set for 11 a.m. and expected to last two hours.

“When illegal aliens cross the border they are committing a felony,” said Freeman Sawyer, an activist helping to organize the rally. “We always talk about the rule of law. Well, if there is a rule of law, let’s enforce it.”

But immigration activists said the sweeps, which led to the detainment of more than 300 people, were unauthorized and should not have been conducted.

“This was a rogue operation that created a climate of fear among our people,” said Armando Navarro, a UCR professor and coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights.

Navarro said racism and nativism are the driving forces behind the rally because some fear Hispanic population growth.

“I anticipated this,” he said. “I thought it was long overdue, understanding the political climate.”

Navarro said he is not aware of any plans for immigration activists to show up at Saturday’s rally.

Border Patrol officials said they have no involvement in the rally. Agents will be on hand to support police in the same way they did when Navarro and others held an anti-sweeps rally at the station June 28. During that protest, agents were dressed in riot gear in case violence broke out. None did.

“(Protests) can be conducted on public property as long as it remains orderly,” said Border Patrol spokesman Sean Isham. “That’s one of the great things about America . . . everybody is afforded that right to demonstrate.”

“It is very important to support our federal law officers who are paid to enforce our own laws,” said Temecula resident Linda Woods, who says she will be at the rally. “They need our support.”