About 300 people marched through Santa Ana on Saturday to protest sweeps by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, saying that the agency is ignoring a new law that will grant amnesty to many living here illegally.
"The INS continues to roam the streets of cities like Santa Ana, Anaheim and Costa Mesa looking for hard-working and law-abiding people to harass," Father Allan Figueroa Deck told the marchers. "In many cases, the very people the INS continues to chase are the very ones to whom the government of the United States is offering legalization."
The marchers, mostly young people from Roman Catholic churches in the area, said the INS raids violate the spirit of the law recently passed by Congress that, starting next year, grants legal resident status to those who can prove that they have lived continuously in the United States since at least Jan. 1, 1982. It also calls for sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens.
INS Regional Commissioner Harold Ezell said the protesters would do better to spend their time "informing the community on what their rights and privileges are under the reform act, instead of doing useless things like the walk today."