Hundreds of janitors set up four tents in front of the federal courthouse Thursday in response to recent crack-downs on undocumented immigrants.
The demonstration, led by a local janitors union, marched down Broadway Ave. at about 1 p.m. It attracted immigrant rights activists and Occupy San Diego protesters.
“Immigrants are being blamed for the recession,” said Angelica Godinez, political coordinator for the Iron Workers Local 229 union. “But they are working here – they’re paying taxes and they contribute to our economy.”
Union members’ employers received I-9 audit notices from ICE two weeks ago, according to Sandra Diaz, San Diego Coordinator for the SEIU USWW Janitors Union.
“ICE and the Department of Homeland Security need to stop focusing their resources on these hard workers,” Diaz said.
Setting up tents has been the trademark image of the Occupy movement. Police say the tents are encroachments, and a violation of the city's municipal code. The continued establishment of tents in the Civic Center Plaza garnered several police raids.
The union and its supporters said they were marching "in solidarity" with the Occupy movement, and that many of the ideals regarding the disintegration of the middle class match theirs as well. However, the group's anger was spurred by the recent audits, which they felt targeted the Hispanic-American community.
"We're here to stop ICE from separating families and terrorizing our community," said Sandy Naranjo, one of the protesters who set up tents on the front lawn of the federal building.