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20,000 rally against anti-immigrant law
Arizona march defends undocumented
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 74/No. 23      June 14, 2010

(lead article)
20,000 rally against
anti-immigrant law
Arizona march defends undocumented
Militant/Naomi Craine
Demonstrators in Phoenix May 29 march behind banners for legalization of immigrant workers and condemn state law SB 1070. Participants came from many states.

PHOENIX—More than 20,000 people converged on this city May 29 to protest Arizona’s anti-immigrant law known as SB 1070. They far outmobilized supporters of the law who rallied that evening.

The new law instructs cops to check the immigration status of anyone they stop who they “suspect” is not in the United States legally. It is due to take effect on July 29.

In addition to Arizona, participants came from California, Washington, Texas, Mississippi, Maryland, Illinois, and elsewhere to protest the law. A van organized by the Providence New Student Movement in Rhode Island made the 52-hour trip.

“It was my first march,” said Vanessa Martinez, who drove with four other students from Cal State University at Bakersfield. They are members of a new campus group called Unite Now for Immigrant Rights.

The day’s events began with an early morning rally. Aaron Salazar, 29, who grew up in Phoenix, said, “I’m here for my family.” Some of his relatives are undocumented, he said, and this profoundly affects the way they live their lives, staying indoors and keeping to themselves. “Many of my friends were brought to the U.S. as young children and grew up here,” he added. “But because they are undocumented they have a tough time trying to find a job.”

The crowd included many high school and college students. Bernice Albarrez, who attends Glendale Community College near Phoenix, said this “affects my family, because we’re Mexican, whether we have papers or not.”

After about two hours participants began the five-mile march to the Capitol. There were contingents of workers from the Service Employees International Union, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and the Laborers International Union.

Librado Lopez marched as part of the UFCW Local 99 contingent with coworkers from the JBS Swift meatpacking plant near Phoenix. Lopez said that he was protesting because under the new law “you are supposed to act like an immigration agent if you give someone a ride, and that is not right.”

He was referring to a provision in the law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport those without documents. “We have to work, we have to eat. This law is bad for us, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic,” he said.

Among the keynote speakers at the Capitol was Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. Other labor officials and politicians also spoke.

Many people held handmade signs or banners reading “Legalización,” “When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty,” “Dignity Sin Condiciones” (Dignity Without Conditions) and “BP—the Real Criminals,” referring to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lori Thomas Riddie, who is Native American, said she attended the rally to support immigrants “who are just here to try and make a life.” She explained she was once surrounded on a lonely road by Border Patrol cops who pointed their guns at her. “I don’t believe we need to give more authority to the police. They stop anyone with a brown skin,” she said.

That evening supporters of SB 1070 held a rally at Diablo Stadium in nearby Tempe. More than 5,000 attended, according to the Arizona Republic. The event, billed as “Stand With Arizona,” was organized by several “tea party” groups.

“Can you hear us now, Mexico?” asked rightist Atlanta radio host Larry Wachs at the rally. “Because this land is not your land. It is our land…. We have our credentials. Where are yours?”

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