By Pablo Jaime Sainz
At the sound of “Not a single more death,” last November 2, Día de los Muertos, several student and human rights organizations held a ceremony in San Diego to remember the more than 3,000 immigrants who have died trying to cross the border since 1994, at the same time that participants were learning about Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The event, which took place at San Diego City College and in which about 150 people participated, had the purpose to educate the student body about the social problems going on at the border, said Jazmin Morelos, member of Resistencia Estudiantil, a grassroots student organization on campus.
“Our goal is to unite students to democratically build a broad antiwar, counter-recruitment, and pro-immigrant movement to help build student activism on campus,” she said.
There were several issues at the forum, but the most interesting part was that at the end of the event, students had the chance to break a 7-feet piñata in the shape of the Terminator, Governor Schwarzenegger.
The wrath against the propositions the governor has put on the November 8 state elections that the piñata was no more.
Enrique Morones, president of Angeles de la Frontera, a human rights organization, said at the event that immigration is a serious problem.
During the event, Morones read the names of dozens of people who have died trying to cross the border.
To help reduce the number of dead, Morones said that Angeles de la Frontera will install emergency stations in Imperial Valley for those undocumented immigrants who might need help trying to cross la frontera.
The stations will have blankets, light clothing, and water gallons, he said.
Since 1994, when Operation Gatekeeper began, about 3,300 immigrants have died at the border and during 2005 there have been more than 400 deaths.
To make matters worst, the triple fence that the U.S. government will build at the Tijuana-San Diego border will cause more deaths, Morones said, while environmental groups said that the ecological reserve in the region will be severely damaged.
“They think that by building more fences they will be able to stop the immigrants, but what it will cause is that immigrants will continue oloking for more dangerous routes that will cause more deaths,” he said. “This year has been the deadliest.”
The activist and co-founder of Gente Unido was against the Minutemen last Summer.
Last September, the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed its plan to build the triple fence from Playas de Tijuana to Otay Mesa, even though the California Coastal Commission rejected the proposal due to the environmental impact.
“It looks as if we were living in a dictatorship where what the president says is the last word,” said Serge Dedina, executive director of environmental group Wildcoast.
“We feel great sadness that the wild lands we’v fought for for more than 20 years will be lost.”
Dedina added that “it’s not only about protecting the plants and animals, it’s about preserving this for our children.”
The area known as the Tijuana River Sanctuary, near San Ysidro, is considered one of the most important wetlands in California.
Homeland Security has said that the construction of the triple fence will cost about $60 million and will begin next year.