Border fence at sunset
U.S. border ence at sunset Photo by Chris Stone

More than 100 immigrants and activists are expected to march Wednesday near San Diego’s border with Tijuana to urge Congress to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The 3 p.m. rally will begin at Border Field State Park and end near the International Friendship Park at the border fence. It comes on the eve of a deadline for Congress to pass a spending bill for the country, with immigration issues a factor in the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.

Organizers of Wednesday’s rally said they will urge Congress to pass a “clean Dream Act,” a bill that would protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children without providing funds for President Donald Trump’s promised border wall.

According to the Seed Project, a campaign of the pro-immigration group Movimiento Cosecha, the march toward the existing border barrier “is being used to highlight what is already in place that serves to separate undocumented communities.”

Those attending the rally will include young undocumented immigrants who are set to lose protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if it’s allowed to expire next month without a deal. Other undocumented immigrants not protected by DACA, and supporters of both groups will also take part in the march.

“On the eve of this deadline, it is important to remind people that we are fighting for more than legislation, but for the recognition of our humanity,” said Karla Estrada, founder of UndocuTravelers. “We are here to uplift the stories of our community and to face the wall that has caused pain to countless people. The wall that will determine the lives of immigrant youth and many immigrants to come.”

During the march and rally, DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants will share their stories and the stories of young immigrants who have already been deported, organizers said. The stories will highlight what organizers called the “cruel and outdated immigration system” and the way “undocumented youth are being used as a tool in Congress to increase enforcement.”

“Undocumented youth will continue, now more than ever, demanding that Democrats hold the line, grow courage and say #NoDreamNoDeal,” said Fernanda Madrigal, an undocumented immigrant who’s part of the Seed Project. “Every day the Dream Act does not pass, over 122 people lose their status. Undocumented youth are at risk of detention and deportation even despite having DACA.”

Movimiento Cosecha advocates for the permanent protection of all undocumented immigrants, not just those protected under DACA. It’s a position that seems extreme in the current polarized immigration battle, but was welcomed even by conservative Republicans just a few decades ago.

“I will not be a bargaining chip and throw my community deeper into the shadows or for families to be separated — the time to act is now,” said Barbara Hernandez, a DACA recipient from the Seed Project. “We need permanent protection, not only for the youth but for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if any anti-immigrant groups or counter protesters planned to demonstrate.

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.