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Berkeley Rally Adds to Call for Immigrant Rights

By Judith Scherr
Friday September 08, 2006

“We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us,” chanted more than 150 people who rallied for immigrant and workers’ rights on Labor Day at St. Joseph the Worker Church.  

Before the marchers walked to the Downtown BART station to join the larger San Francisco march and rally, Fr. George Crespin offered a blessing and speakers called for justice for all immigrants. 

“This is a civil rights movement, a human rights movement and a labor rights movement,” said Carlos Muñoz, emeritus professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, speaking from the church steps. “We march for the rights of all immigrant workers ... This is a powerful movement that we are part of today because we are America.”  

Condemning both the Republican and Democratic parties for not standing up for justice for the immigrant worker, Muñoz said: “The Democrats need to become a real party of opposition.”  

Attorney David Lunas took the opportunity to remind those in the crowd without documents not to trust people who would take their money while falsely claiming they could regularize their immigration status. 

“There is no amnesty out there,” he said 

Representing Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action, Procesa Gorrestieta said she came to the United States without papers. She talked about how hard immigrants work at their jobs and volunteer their labor in their children’s schools but still have no medical coverage for their children.  

“We suffer every day from fear that the ‘migra’ will come and take us and be deported,” she said. “I don’t know why people say we are criminals. We just come to this country to work and work really hard to take care of your children and take care of your houses. We love doing it, but we want respect and support.” 

After the speeches, marchers, some waving Mexican and American flags, moved briskly up University Avenue. Among the signs they carried in English and Spanish were those that read: “no human is illegal,” and “no more criminalization of immigrants.” 

No uniformed police accompanied the march that drew honks and cheers from passersby.