More than 100 people gathered at Chicano Park in Barrio Logan on Saturday morning, August 16, in support of Trail for Humanity, which was to conclude a 26-day journey from California's Central Valley to the San Ysidro border this afternoon.
The idea for the trail came about following a spring break at UC Berkeley, when organizer Cindy Gonzalez says her partner Valesca returned from a humanitarian mission along the Arizona/Mexico border.
"When she came back she was really – she was just broken by what she saw there," says Gonzalez. "After brainstorming, we decided to take on this walk to bring attention and show solidarity with our migrant undocumented brothers and sisters."
After months of organizing, a core group of nine began the 400-mile journey from Merced, an agricultural community about 60 miles east of San Jose. Others have joined in along the way for portions of the journey, with the group committed to completing the journey eventually expanding to 24.
"It was really hot, over 100 degrees every day," Gonzalez recalls. "But the community really came through – when they'd see us walking they would give us food, give us water. People really were willing to contribute in any way to make us successful, which is what got us here today."
Max Bojorquez, a local activist who's been involved with the La Bodega art gallery in Barrio Logan, was involved in providing the group logistical support as it passed through San Diego.
"A few families have opened their homes to provide places for the walkers to stay," says Bojorquez. “Another provided us space to meet and have breakfast before getting started with today's activities."
The group has a handful of goals posted on the Trail for Humanity website. They want a complete halt to deportations until a comprehensive immigration package is passed by Congress, a ban on the practice in some communities of using police officers as de-facto immigration enforcement officials, and an end to laws and policies that lead to racial profiling, such as Arizona's infamous SB 1070 and New York City's "stop and frisk" campaign.
While they've received positive feedback from thousands who've offered support along the way, reception from legislators has been less than enthusiastic.
"We've spoken with two congress members along the way; neither has been very receptive," says Gonzalez. "There's also been a lot of police agitation, especially in the valley – police are always stopping us for questioning, but it's been okay. Everyone has been safe along the way."
Following a ceremony featuring native tribal dance and a handful of impassioned speakers, the crowd spilled into Logan Avenue and began marching south. After several scheduled stops, they planned to conclude the day with a rally at Larsen Field in San Ysidro.