On the line

Undocumented young activists risk arrest to block a deportation bus and call for immigration reform

Activists block an ICE bus filled with detainees bound for deportation.


Nobody knew exactly when the bus would leave. It was the afternoon of Oct. 17, and a group of about 60 immigrant rights activists were gathered in the shade of some tall trees in a park by the TransAmerica Pyramid in downtown San Francisco.

Many were young, Latino or Asian Pacific Islander, dressed in hooded sweatshirts, baseball caps, and slim-fitting jeans. They chatted and milled about, perhaps trying to ease a gnawing sense of anticipation over what was about to happen.

Half a block away and out of view, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were leading passengers onto a white bus, parked at the ICE building at 630 Sansome St., with a "Homeland Security" label inscribed on the front. All the passengers were ICE detainees; some were about to embark on long deportation journeys, while others were being sent to detention centers where they would remain in limbo until either being deported or exonerated.

Back at the park, organizer Jen Low was peering at her phone every 10 minutes. "They're locking the bus!" she exclaimed after reading a text sent by someone on the lookout. That meant it was almost time to go. The activists started organizing themselves into two groups: Those willing to risk arrest, and those planning to rally in support.

The ones facing arrest were planning to engage in peaceful civil disobedience, by placing their bodies in front of the bus to prevent it from going anywhere. "About half of the people who will be blocking the bus are undocumented," Low told the Guardian as they prepared to exit the park. "That's why some of us are so on edge right now."

They headed toward the ICE building en masse, slowly at first and then quickening their pace, some hastily peeling off top layers to reveal handmade T-shirts underneath proclaiming, "Not one more." Others were already stationed at the bus, and as 10 protesters linked arms and settled onto the street in front of it, someone had already started up a chorus of "We Shall Not Be Moved."



They'd been inspired by a recent ICE bus blockade carried out by Arizona activists, organizer Jon Rodney said, and the civil disobedience was meant to send a message to President Barack Obama that it's unfair to continue deporting undocumented people as long as a resolution on federal immigration reform remains stalled in Congress. Rodney's organization, the California Immigrant Policy Center, has emphasized family unity as a guiding principle that should inform immigration reform efforts.

A variety of organizations had been involved in planning the action, including the California Immigrant Policy Center, Causa Justa/Just Cause, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education), and the Asian Law Caucus.

Among the protesters was Dean Santos, a 23-year-old originally from the Philippines who had been brought to the US when he was 12. Not so long ago, he'd been transported out of San Francisco on a white deportation bus leaving from that very building. Faced with a trumped-up felony that was later downgraded to a misdemeanor, Santos was taken into federal custody in late 2010 because the initial serious charge triggered ICE involvement.

He was given the choice of voluntary deportation or indefinite detention while he fought his case. Santos chose the latter. He called his mother in San Bruno, where they lived, and apologized for what had happened.

Locked in a cramped cell in the San Francisco ICE building, he started to feel overcome with fear, but an elder man he was detained with offered comforting words. "He told me he had also decided to stay and fight, and he said he was doing it for the sake of his daughters," Santos recalled.


Bus slightly delayed.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

Everything is upside down in this sob non-story - criminals (a.k.a 'undocumented young activists', DEMANDING to change the laws of the country they have no business to be in), somehow depicted here as heroes and 'evil' ICE agents and enforcement officers merely performing their duties.Totally absurd and utterly disgusting. It is really tragic what have we become...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 8:12 pm

When America is a smoldering ruin, leftists will survey their work and beam with pride. "We did it!"

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

smoldering ruin, and leftists had little or nothing to do with it.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

If things keep going the way they are in terms of rising inequality, America is set for some extremely unpleasant times in the coming years. The only thing I can see that could potentially turn these policies around toward promoting greater equality, without bloodshed, is the same kind of demographic change that we see starting to bear fruit in California. As a result of the demographic shift, California has gone from solidly Republican, to a state where Republicans are a permanent minority. And, I might add, without the predicted rightward shift on social issues. (A recent Pew poll found that Latinos are actually more liberal than whites on issues like abortion and gay rights).

Well in 40-50 years, America will look like California, and California will look like Los Angeles. It can't come soon enough, IMO.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 10:24 pm

If the top 10% become richer and the other 90% become no poorer, then inequality has increased but nobody is worse off.

You should focus on absolute numbers rather than worry that someone somewhere has a lot more than you, because that doesn't matter, unless you are vain, insecure or envious.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:41 am

that bottom 90%

loses much more of the influence which wealth brings

if you and i are both standing in a ticket line

and you can offer the ticket taker 2 dollars to let you jump the line (and i can offer 1) the ticket taker will likely tell us both to get back in line

but if you can and would offer 100 dollars...

therein lies the key problem of wealth disparity

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:57 am

having more money opens more doors and gets you better stuff?

You think? Really? I'm shocked to hear that.

But unless you think every person should have the exact same means, and even communist nations came nowhere close to that, then what you describe is inevitable.

And desirable, because it is that prospect that drives ambition and effort, because people like to succeed. People like to jump that line.

Otherwise why would anyone even show up at work?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:10 am

In the theoretical universe of Chicago-school economics, "wealth" gets "created," as if by magic, and no one is worse off for it. In real life, wealth gets concentrated by a tiny few who exploit the labor of others, and 90% of the country is, in fact, losing ground in terms of real wages.

But even if it were true, inequality is, in fact, an issue in and of itself. The Wilkinson and Pickett research proves it. But as I've stated before, you need not even read the research. This is basic human psychology. We have an innate sense of fairness from the time we're toddlers, and no amount of "rational actor" BS can change the way the human mind actually works. Inequality, in and of itself, separate and apart from poverty, has a devastating effect on the human psyche, and is independently associated with a range of social ills.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

imply anything about the financial wellbeing of others.

Indeed, if that newly rich person shares his wealth, invests in his community or hires locals, then everyone gains from the increased "inequality".

Concepts like inequality are grounded in envy. Why concern yourself with what other have? Focus instead on what you can achieve.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

repeating this nonsense, John.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 5:59 pm

Sort of like a Zen Boy Scout, huh?

Posted by pete moss on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

to shallow right wingers, everything in the end boils down to sexual shame

it is the unconscious core of their entire being

and it is why they erroneously believe that sexual insults wither progressives (when in fact they don't, because most progressives are more mature than to fall prey to such locker room mentality insults)

Posted by xklj on Oct. 26, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

'Well in 40-50 years, America will look like California, and California will look like Los Angeles. It can't come soon enough, IMO'. Do you mean like Beverly Hills or East Los Angeles or a barrio found in any big California city ? I suspect it will rather look more like Juarez, Mexico. Such a nice future you are dreaming about...with full blown 'leftward' shift. IMO.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:42 am

Probably because he is some pasty privileged white boy with an over-developed sense of white guilt.

He identifies with people who are poor, criminal and non-white (except Asians because they are successful and he really needs victims to make himself feel better).

Of course, in real-life, he wouldn't be seen dead in Bayview or South Central LA. He is pro-POC only in his progressive mind, and not in his real comfortable life.

Posting here is about as revolutionary as he gets.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:46 am

just a troll taking a pathetic cheap shot

because he thinks imping my handle will somehow stop me from giving him a bad time

in your dreams troll

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:03 am

I do that to throw off the moderators who were finding it too easy to delete my barrier posts.

I am racer in the sense that I am spartacus.

Posted by racer on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:13 am

as if you trolls never do anything to subvert spam filters


Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:28 am

As Lilli, I was banned from SFGate for trolling endlessly.

It's my life and I am proud of it.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:40 am

Nobody can out-troll the Lilli!

Frankly, you just don't have enough free time to compete with me!

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:59 am
Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:03 am

At 10:03 AM:
I know. It's pretty obvious who the imps are.

Posted by Greg on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 9:58 pm

Except to racer x apparently, who is the one being imped. He should use the handle Captain Oblivious

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:10 pm
Posted by Greg on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 7:08 am

Never been to the Bayview with Greg, but we did once go to Hunters Point together.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:35 am

But Greg isn't a real person. Is he your imaginary friend?

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:41 am

You generally have to go through the Bayview to get to Hunters Point.

Posted by marcos on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 10:59 am

Did you take BART to SFO and then a SamTrans bus back?

You must really have been determined to avoid it.

Clear racism.

Posted by racer x on Oct. 24, 2013 @ 11:04 am

this is simply a barricade against trolls

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into repetitive reactionary hyperbole, and/or petty, mean spirited personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by vklihol on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 5:31 am

Just go try and do the same thing in Mexico & see what it will get you….

Posted by Guest on Oct. 23, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

Don't be fooled by fraudulent nonprofits, such as Mark Goldes' Aesop Institute. Read reviews: http://greatnonprofits.org/reviews/aesop-institute/166232/

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2013 @ 4:40 am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.