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Monday, October 25, 2010

Phoenix Hammers Immigration Protesters

reza protest minister uu


Article first published as Phoenix Talks Tough With Immigration Protesters


A conservative Republican senate passed the toughest anti-immigration law in the history of the United States of America. It was titled SB 1070 and requires all police officers to detain any person suspected of being in the state without documents.


The provisions of the law did not explain what an “illegal immigrant” looked like, so the burden fell upon those who are frequently stereotyped as being “illegal", primarily Latinos. The marches in protest of Goveror Jan Brewer signing the law went unheard.


The potential for abuse from racial profiling and the departure of “probable cause” for detaining suspects was troubling to civil rights leaders. Even conservatives decried the law because it effectively required every person in Arizona carry a passport when going to the grocery store.


Banner DropOn July 28th, 2010, a decision was handed down by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton. Some of the worst provisions of the law were stricken as unconstitutional. Other portions were enjoined from enforcement pending what will likely be years of legal challenges to be paid for by the state of Arizona.


Civil rights organizations supported the protest including Arizona based Puente   Movement, Alto Arizona, and the National Day Laborer’s Organizing Network (NDLON) led by charismatic Salvador Reza.   It was also supported by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in their Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) campaign.


Thousands of protesters staged actions throughout the cities of Phoenix and Tucson. By mid morning, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was forced to divert his forces from their planned barrio raids in order to assist the overwhelmed city of Phoenix Police Department. Over 80 people were arrested, including Rev. Peter Morales, President of the UUA, Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray, Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, and 27 clergy and laypeople. Salvador Reza, was also arrested.


let your compassion be greater than your fear

By nightfall, the Maricopa County jail was filled with people, many white, who took a stand against SB 1070.


The next day, 11 more protesters were arrested in front of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department when they blocked a Sheriff Arpaio detail heading out to do a barrio raid.  Salvador Reza, having been released hours before, was again arrested. At his appearance for his second arrest, the D.A. said he did not see probable cause for Reza's arrest.


During the past months lawyers have been wrangling with the City of Phoenix. The burden of prosecuting over 90 cases mostly of obstructing a public road-way have required resources the city could use elsewhere. There was optimism the charges would be dropped altogether. However, the city refuses to negotiate much with the protesters and most cases are moving forward.


It is possible several of the cases will be consolidated into multiple trials with multiple defendants. Concerns about attorney conflicts of interest may still need to be resolved. Unless the City of Phoenix is willing to be more forgiving it will be forced to prosecute people for standing in the street when it could concentrate on drunk drivers instead. Trials could begin as soon as November 15th, 2010.


An easy solution to the SB 1070 problem is Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) which is primarily a border security bill.  In the final paragraphs, the bill provides a small benefit to undocumented workers by allowing them to migrate over a seven year period. 

 reza protest signssm beating drum for reza

First, they must pay a hefty fine, which when totaled could exceed $3 billion, pass a background check and comply with strict regulations.


One immediate benefit to law enforcement and to US citizens is the workers would be issued driver's licenses, thus allowing all drivers on the road to be easily identified and to have automobile insurance.


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