About 30 people--mostly high school, college and university students--picketed Rep. Edward R. Royce's office Wednesday afternoon to protest his support for 15 proposed federal anti-immigration bills.
Royce (R-Fullerton) is backing proposals that call for stopping payment of federal welfare and unemployment benefits to illegal immigrants, increasing penalties for immigrant smuggling, imposing a cap on legal immigration to curb costs, and increasing border patrol agents.
"We see congressmen blaming all the economic problems on immigrants because we're an easy target," said Alberto Ortega, 25, a Fullerton College student. "We don't see the immigrant community doing anything about it so it's time for us to speak up and that's what we are doing with this picket."
Royce was not in town, but in a letter addressed to Ortega, he wrote: "The Immigration and Naturalization Service has indicated that there are now as many as 3 million illegal (immigrants) in Southern California, with more coming over the border every day. We must stem this tide, not because of racial or cultural prejudice, but to overcome the severe economic problems it creates in many communities."
The demonstrators, who call themselves the Coalition Against Immigrant Bashing, carried placards reading, "Ed Royce should be illegal" and "Bash politicians not immigrants." They marched in a circle in front of Royce's office on Harbor Boulevard, chanting "raza si, migra no" (the people yes, INS no).
David Rojas, 22, an organizer of the rally, said it was the first of many planned for the next several months. Future picketing will target other elected officials and the INS, he said.
"We're demonstrating against the fact that immigrants are being made scapegoats for any social and economic problem when the blame should be directed at legislators," said Rojas, a Fullerton College student. "Bashing immigrants leads to hate and violence among the citizens in this country and that is wrong."
Royce, who was in Washington during the demonstration, had his Fullerton office issue a statement on his behalf. In it, Royce said, "The people of Southern California just cannot afford the tax expenditure required for the number of illegal immigrants now crossing our borders. . . . Our public coffers are not brimming with wealth."
He did not comment on the demonstration, which later continued in front of the offices of Assemblyman Ross Johnson (R-Fullerton).