Thousands protesting new immigration bill hope to “Legalize Arizona”


by Catherine Holland

Posted on April 25, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Updated Sunday, Apr 25 at 5:55 PM

PHOENIX – Thousands of people converged on the Capitol Sunday afternoon to protest the recently signed immigration bill.

With chants of “Sí, se puede” (“Yes, we can”) echoing through the air, those opposed to Senate Bill 1070 handed out T-shirts bearing the slogan “Legalize Arizona.”

The rally started at noon, but dozens of people were still on hand at 5 p.m., even though most of the planned events had wrapped up.

Amid much controversy and national attention, Gov. Jan Brewer signed 1070 on Friday, giving Arizona the toughest anti-immigration law in the country. The new law is slated to go into effect in a little less than 90 days.

Official challenges to the new law could come as soon as Tuesday in front of the Phoenix City Council. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has said he will file a lawsuit on behalf of his city.

“We’ll go to court,” he said in front of the cheering crowd outside the Capitol. “We’ll go to the state courts. Then we’ll go to the federal courts. Then we’ll go all the way to the Supreme Court. I promise you.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva, who has gone so far as to ask for a boycott of Arizona – telling people and organizations not to spend their money in our state – is planning to ask the Obama administration for help in fighting the new law.The president has gone on record, calling the legislation "misguided."

The biggest concern of those opposed to the new law is that it will encourage racial profiling, especially of Hispanics.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Phoenix Police Union and others who support the measure say those concerns are unfounded. They say racial profiling absolutely will not be an issue.

While the rally was going on at the Capitol, civil right activists packed First Institutional Baptist Church.

Dr. Warren Stewart was one of the speakers. He fired up the crowd, encouraging people to use civil disobedience as a way to fight the new law.

“Some of us may have to go to jail if all else fails.” he said. “Let’s fill up, overflow Sheriff Arpaio’s jail. Overflow it with those for righteousness and for justice.”

Stewart also suggested people take part in boycotts and register to vote.

As people on both sides of the issue continue to make their opinions known in here Arizona, Mexico came out Sunday condemning the new bill, saying it will hurt relations between the U.S. and our neighbors to the south. Mexican President Felipe Calderón said SB 1070 presents an obstacle for solving immigration problems.

With Arizona’s new law thrusting the issue of illegal immigration into the national spotlight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wants to make federal immigration reform a top priority. Republicans, however, say now is not the time to tackle such a complex issue.