Well, the immigrants rights movement marches on.
The forum in Danbury was last weekend, 2/25. 380 people, total, attended. Of that, only 40 were anti immigrant protesters. The rest, were all there to support our immigrant population here in danbury, and to voice disgust with local governments collaboration with Federal I.C.E agents.
Danbury has always been a very unique town. Close to New York City, it offers a lot of the benefits of a metropolitan area. And yet, it maintains a close knit, small community in other ways, where people all know eachother, for the most part. Not surprisingly then, some life-long Danbury citizens, the older generation, mainly, and some of the more affluent younger citizens who have led sheltered, pampered lives view our city's numerous immigrant communities with suspicion and fear. The same people, for the most part who have a problem with Immigrants, have a problem with ANYTHING or ANYBODY who they do not identify with, or do not understand. In short, they are afraid of anything different than them.
Danbury has a large Brazilian, and Large Ecuadorian population. These immigrant communities have continually helped to breathe life into our city's economy, by bolstering business in the Main Street district where numerous ethnic restaurants, and boutiques cater to a mixed market of clientele. Most of our immigrants work hard, pay taxes, and contribute to a multicultural, multireligious, multi faceted community in which diversity is prized, and embraced, with the exception of the above mentioned small group of people.
Our Mayor on the other hand, is an opportunistic arrogant man, who realized that Immigration would be a hot button topic in the coming election, so he decided to lead a call for immigration reform. Organizing a group by the name of Mayors and Executives for Immigration Reform. Needless to say, by reform, he does not mean from all levels. He has sided, it appears, with the Anti-Immigrant population who, usually being conservatives, vote republican, which is his party ticket. And in Danbury, the conservatives are the people who do not like the immigrant community, any more than they like homosexuals, or any more than they like pro choicers, etc.
So, our mayor decided to make a name for himself off of the back of our Immigrant community. Aware that media would catch the scent of struggle, Mayor Boughton called ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and directly requested their presence in Danbury. Since the first raid was conducted, in September of 2006, in which 11 Ecuadorian Day Laborers were approached by an unmarked van carrying undercover Ice Agents, lured into the van by a promise of work, and driven directly to a detention center based on little more than the fact that they were brown skinned, and waiting for work (in other words, no outstanding warrant for any of those entering the van, no proof, etc...a clear cut case of racial profiling), and then to Boston, and then to HOUSTON TEXAS, questioned without legal representation, and without benefit of an interpreter, and held even without notification to their families.. more raids have occurred.
Despite a public outcry, Mayor Boughton has turned his nose up at us, and continued to allow ICE free reign in our immigrant community. To Date, 32 people have been arrested, and detained by ICE. Often in ways which are illegal, and in complete opposition to civil rights.
Stop the Raids, a Danbury based group of activists who oppose these raids has become a voice for those who oppose these raids. And we hosted a forum on 2/25 which drew 380 people to hear speakers from both local, and nationally targeted communities, as well as lawyers and union organizers who support, and protect the rights of immigrants.
The following video clip is a clip of a section of our forum. A testimony by Teresa Pereira, a Danbury Brazilian Woman who has lived in america for 16 years. Worked, paid her taxes, started her process of legal documentation, and mother to two AMERICAN born children..citizens. Her lawyer dropped the ball, and never filed appeals he said he was going to file, and never notified her that there was any problem with her status. She was arrested, and detained, without even being told WHY she was being held, and held at a prison in Maine for a couple of weeks before lawyers were finally able to secure her release, and a reopening of her case file. Hear how she describes her arrest. The impact it had on her, and her family, how it was conducted, and how ICE further demonstrates their disdain for Immigrant Families by using her own SON to trap her: