“I was one of the first ones to leave water (bottles) in the desert, too,” said Salazar, 78, in Spanish.
Salazar, a migrant herself who came from Mexico in the 1950s, made the crosses because “as Jesus said: ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor.’”
The cross Salazar brought to this cemetery was just one of the many more brought by other activists who came from San Diego, Los Angeles and even Texas during the seventh annual Migrant March that started Thursday.
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The march, organized by the Border Angels, started in San Diego on Thursday morning and is expected to end Feb. 11 in Sacramento where activists will meet elected officials.
On their way activists will also stop in Yuma, Coachella, La Paz, Bakersfield and other locations.
“It’s important to share the migrant story,” said Enrique Morones, leader of the Border Angels. With the march the Border Angels are also encouraging people to register to vote and incentivizing social change.
“Change starts with each of us,” Morones said in Spanish, “and to achieve justice you need to be become part of the process.”
“This is a protest — basically,” said Walter Batres, an activist born in Guatemala who’s lived in the United States since his childhood.
This was his first visit to “the wetback cemetery,” he said.
“When I was a child I was taught to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Batres said in Spanish, “and here we are building another one.”
By stopping in the Holtville cemetery the march is trying to send a message that “the forgotten ones are not forgotten,” he said.
Besides placing crosses, activists prayed and sang surrounded by the graves of about 600 unidentified migrants whose bodies were found in the Imperial County desert.
Though it is known that the county is in charge of burying the bodies, nobody knows who or when exactly that happens, Morones said.
“Hate is not an option” and “give children back their parents,” were some of the slogans that were echoed as the sun went down, right after the prayers.
“People usually don’t get to see this side,” said Gerald Clark from Los Angeles. He came to the event because of his girlfriend and doesn’t consider himself much of an activist.
But “experiences like this makes you consider what is happening,” Clark said. “This is an important piece of the puzzle in the public opinion,” he said while looking at the graves.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or email@example.com