Dozens rally in downtown Santa Rosa in support of immigrants

Labor and immigration rights advocates held a rally in Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square Friday evening, protesting last week’s mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that targeted Mexicans and Wednesday’s roundup of undocumented immigrant workers in Mississippi.

Irma Garcia, a member of the North Bay Organizing Project’s immigrant defense task force, said the Texas massacre that killed 22 and the arrests of about 700 people by U.S. immigration officials in southern Mississippi represent an escalation of anti-immigrant sentiment and racism in the United States.

“We’ve seen these things expressed in words and even physically, but never in mass killings,” said Garcia, speaking in Spanish. “People are taking expressions of racism to a new level. We’re here to support our immigrant communities.”

The demonstrators included members of Graton Day Labor Center, Comité VIDA, a volunteer immigrant rights organization, Indivisible Petaluma and other left-leaning groups.

Christy Lubin, executive director of the Graton Day Labor Center, noted the absence of immigrants among the 30 to 40 people protesting in downtown Santa Rosa. Lubin recalled rallies in the city more than a decade ago that drew thousands of immigrants pushing for comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Now immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, are fearful of attending public protests, because they feel like “they have a target on their back,” she said.

“There’s a lot of fear and people don’t want to come out,” Lubin said. “I hear it all the time from workers at the (day labor) center.”