Hundreds of people marched in Oakland Friday to encourage city officials to make Oakland a sanctuary city and to protest Arizona's new law that requires local law enforcement to check the legal status of those they suspect may be illegal immigrants.
The marchers wove through Oakland starting at 9 a.m. and reached City Hall a little after noon, event organizer Lizbeth Gomez said.
At the front of the march was a banner that read: "No human is illegal." There also was a group of Aztec dancers leading the group. Marchers chanted "Si, se puede," or "Yes, we can."
The march was organized about two months ago by Youth United for Justice, a group comprised of Oakland students. The group has marched for the past two years to encourage city leaders to make Oakland a sanctuary city free of deportations and immigration raids.
Gomez, a 21-year-old community college student, said about 250 students, parents and community members participated in today's march.
After Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law last week, the group decided to also show their support of a citywide boycott of the border state.
The law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, and it requires police officers to question, "when practicable," those they "reasonably suspect" are illegal immigrants.
Under the new law, even lawful foreign residents would be committing a crime if they fail to carry immigration documents. It would also be illegal to stop on a public street to negotiate the hire of day laborers.
Four Oakland City Council members blasted the law Thursday, calling it unjust and saying it would result in racial profiling Hispanics and other immigrants.
City Council President Jane Brunner said Thursday a resolution will soon be introduced to have the city of Oakland boycott Arizona. Members of Youth United for Justice met with the City Council that day to discuss the boycott and other issues, Gomez said.
Gomez, who is transferring to San Francisco State University in the fall, said she could how be thrown in jail if she goes to Arizona. Her mother brought her here illegally when she was 6 months old.
"It's very negative," she said of the immigration bill. "We just want a better community and to keep families together."