Members of the San Luis Obispo community rallied in support of undocumented immigrants Sept. 22 in California. The protest focused on bills SB 54 and AB21, which recently passed and are awaiting signature by Governor Jerry Brown. These bills would designate California as a sanctuary state, restricting cooperation between state law enforcement and federal immigration enforcement agencies.
In response to the bill, San Luis Obispo Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham wrote an op-ed voicing his opposition to the bill. Cunningham said the bill is more of a political grandstand rather than a serious attempt to address a complex problem and it will put the safety of law abiding citizens at risk.
The protest was organized for two main reasons: to persuade Cunningham to support the bill and to rally the support of all the bills’ followers, in an attempt to convince Governor Brown to sign them into law.
“The suffering of undocumented students is very real. We know of a view from our club. And we understand that they live in fear of Trump and his stubbornness of DACA. And for those students to feel safe on campus it is necessary for bills like this to pass,” philosophy sophomore and Cal Poly Movimiento Estudiantil Xicano de Aztlán (MEXA) member Rosa Elena Lopez said.
There were between 20 and 30 protesters, most of whom were students. The protest was officially sponsored by five student organizations: Cal Poly Democrats, Cal Poly MEXA, Cal Poly Queer Student Union, Cal Poly Students for Quality Education (SQE) and The Student Collective.
“We believe that LGBTQ equality, justice and liberation requires much more than marriage equality and requires us to think about complex identities,” political science senior and Cal Poly Queer Student Union member Matt Klepfer said. “How LGBTQ members come from all different backgrounds, so there are LGBTQ people who are undocumented. We have to think about all undocumented people, people who qualify for DACA and those who can’t, dreamer students and their families”
The protesters marched half a mile from Mission San Luis Obispo to Cunningham’s office. They chanted and held their own homemade signs and brought along other ways to make noise, such as drums and stereos.
Once outside the offices, a few select members entered the office and spoke with Cunningham’s secretary. They discussed their difficulties trying to organize a meeting between their coalition and Cunningham. Members of the coalition claimed they emailed Cunningham’s office every two weeks for the past six months.
“She kept saying that every request for meetings by SQE with the assemblyman were not true. Because they respond to every single email, stuff like that. And that if you guys had been emailing us for so long we would have responded by that,” biochemistry sophomore and Cal Poly MEXA member Gabriela Guillen said.
Protesters shared their personal stories at the office and left their personal contact information in hopes of getting a response. The protesters continued their march and returned to the Mission, where the demonstration came to a close.