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Activists call on Obama to fight AZ immigrant law

Civil rights activists called on President Barack Obama to fight a tough new Arizona law targeting illegal immigrants Sunday, promising to march in the streets and invite arrest by refusing to comply if the measure goes into effect.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona told about 3,500 protesters gathered at the state Capitol that the Obama administration can help defeat the law by refusing to cooperate when illegal immigrants are picked up by local police and turned over to federal immigration officers.

“We’re going to overturn this unjust and racist law, and then we’re going to overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law,” said Grijalva, a Democrat.

Obama has called the new law “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it’s legal. It requires police to question people about their immigration status — including asking for identification — if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. Opponents say it would undoubtedly lead to racial profiling, because officers would be more likely to ask people who look Hispanic.

Supporters have dismissed concerns of racial profiling, saying the law prohibits the use of race or nationality as the sole basis for an immigration check. Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill into law Friday, has ordered state officials to develop a training course for officers to learn what constitutes reasonable suspicion someone is in the U.S. illegally.

Current law in Arizona and most states doesn’t require police to ask about the immigration status of those they encounter, and many police departments prohibit officers from inquiring out of fear immigrants won’t cooperate in other investigations.

The new law makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. Immigrants unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the U.S. could be arrested, jailed for up to six months and fined $2,500. It also allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws.

Arizona officers would arrest people found to be undocumented and turn them over to federal immigration officers. Opponents said the federal government can block the law by refusing to accept them.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking Sunday in New York, said that just as freedom riders battled segregation in the 1960s, he would organize “freedom walkers” to challenge the Arizona law.

“We will go to Arizona when this bill goes into effect and walk the streets with people who refuse to give identification and force arrest,” Sharpton said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s office said in a statement Saturday that “the Mexican government condemns the approval of the law” and “the criminalization of migration, far from contributing to collaboration and cooperation between Mexico and the state of Arizona, represents an obstacle to solving the shared problems of the border region.”

Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants and is the state with the most illegal border crossings, with the harsh, remote desert serving as the gateway for thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans.

3 comments

  1. Al Sharpton must have never been to Phoenix in July. He will find a deserted city as the residents all will be in Prescott or San Diego. Tens of people will parade down Central Ave to protest this summer.

    Somehow, I am going to guess the protest will have to wait until November due to “organization snafus”. Perhaps this fall the Phoenix hotels and motels will then be full for a change.

  2. What part of illegal do people not understand. Why is it okay to come to another country and not want to obey the law, force people to speak their language, use our paid dollars to take care of them. Why doesn’t anyone care about how Arizona people have to suffer…from murders, drugs, and crime. If they are not legal in Az and don’t like it…you have the right to leave. If you are not guilty anything…who cares! All these groups who from all over stirring up trouble and hate…yes hate and problems. If the Federal Government would spend our money correctly to secure our borders none of this would be a problem. Your anger is misguided and should be with goverment. Jan Brewer is just trying to protect us. Would it matter to these people who are rejecting this bill if it were their family members who are suffering. Or are they just interested in causing problems. I can understand the illegals for a better life but….why do we have to suffer for what they want. There are not enough jobs for legal citizens so why do we have to constantly give handouts just because illegals can break the law and demand it. If your family member is illegal and you are hiding them…well then you are ading criminals.

  3. I have a little history lesson to you. As of 1997 there were 46.9million Hispanics in the United States. Hispanics have lived continuously in the United States since 1565. Hispanic cultural legacy predates British influence and is why 75% of Hispanics have held on to their native language and culture. This is our home and our country.
    So before you start to judge us, get to know us. If you can look past the color of the skin you will find Hispanics are hard working people with a great sense of family values. Hispanics are patriotic and love this country very much. We will gladly work numerous jobs to provide for our families and in times of need we pull together.
    The upsetting part of the Arizona law is not the illegal immigrants but the racial profiling.

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