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SB1070: Immigrant rights struggle heats up in Arizona

By Charla Schlueter

Community members and activists gathered at a Puente assembly in Phoenix to prep

Phoenix, AZ – Tensions build as July 29 nears – the date set for the racist law SB1070 to go into effect. Under this law police officers will have the power to demand immigration papers from any person who they stop. Garage sales have already begun lining the streets of Arizona as families flee trying to escape the impending oppression.

As the tension has mounted, so has the struggle for human rights. Activists from all over the nation are descending on Phoenix to organize against this law, joining grassroots organizations in Arizona. Already, on July 22, 16 people were arrested for blocking an intersection in an act of defiance saying, “We will not comply!”

In the 90-degree heat of the evening, over 100 community organizers sat outside gearing up for the huge events this Thursday, July 29. The actions will begin at 8:00 a.m. with a march to the courthouse. Later in the day activists plan to confront Sheriff Arpaio and rally outside the county jail. “After this Thursday, we won’t even be allowed to be on the sidewalks to find work,” said Karlos, an activist with PUENTE. Asked why he fighting back, Karlos replied, “They just want to scoop us up and throw us out, but we won’t let them.”

A somber testimony from a pair of Guatemalan day laborers at the meeting highlighted the urgent need for legalization and reform.

One of the workers spoke about how his cousin (also a day laborer), was picked up for a job one day. “I never saw him alive again,” the man confided. He had fallen to his death from a palm tree where he had been working. The employer disappeared without a trace and with no way to be held accountable by the law. “Now we just need $500 to send him home.” The activists at the meeting rallied and in an act of solidarity raised over $1000 passing around a baseball cap.

It is this kind of unity that will win the struggle for immigrant rights. These communities refuse to be silenced or bullied into submission. The meeting ended with people stating why they organized, one older Latino man shouted from the crowd, “Because we are not animals!” Copycat laws are starting to encroach on other states. Now is the time to get involved and help in the fight for full legalization!

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