"Even though the politicians have stopped talking about it, we still need immigration reform," said Genoveva Aguilar, one of about two dozen protesters who gathered outside the federal courthouse downtown on Friday afternoon, June 13.
Most of those gathered were affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). As many as 500 undocumented union hotel workers were laid off in San Diego last year, as major employers moved to adopt E-Verify, a federal database that confirms statements employees make about their legal right to work in the United States.
"A lot of these people are still struggling to find a job," Aguilar said. "They had been working, in some cases, at the same job for 20 years. They've got families, children who are U.S. citizens and in school, and they now have no way to pay for rent or other expenses."
The group doesn't endorse a specific proposal but repeatedly called in both English and Spanish for federal lawmakers to address what they called a "badly broken" immigration system.
Organizers said the reason they chose to speak out now was to commemorate the anniversary of a Los Angeles janitors' strike that began June 15, 1990, and eventually won the workers involved a $2 hourly raise and access to employer-sponsored health care.