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Dozens of Immigrant Rights Activists Arrested in Arizona

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At least fifty people were arrested in Arizona yesterday in protests against the state’s new anti-immigrant law. The law went into effect on Thursday, but not before a federal judge blocked four key parts of the legislation. One of the biggest protests occurred in Phoenix outside of the Fourth Avenue Jail run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We speak with Carlos Garcia, lead organizer for the Puente Movement. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We go now to Arizona, where Wednesday’s federal ruling temporarily blocking key provisions of that state’s notorious anti-immigrant law, Senate Bill 1070, has done nothing to quell the fierce debate around immigration. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer swiftly appealed the ruling by US District Judge Susan Bolton, politicians in eighteen states said they wanted to push similar measures, and protesters rallied from coast to coast demonstrating against the Arizona law.

In Phoenix, hundreds came out early Thursday morning to protest and stage civil disobedience actions. This is Sharon Lungo, one of the hundreds of demonstrators who arrived in a caravan from California to protest in the streets of Phoenix.

    SHARON LUNGO: Yesterday’s ruling was not a victory. It was a compromise. It doesn’t represent the dignity that people here are representing today by taking the streets, by putting themselves on the line, by putting themselves at risk, to tell the people of this world that we deserve human rights, that all people deserve human rights, that borders are — they’re political lines that are drawn by other people.

JUAN GONZALEZ: At least fifty people were arrested by federal officers, Phoenix police officers and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputies. Among those arrested were civil rights leader Salvador Reza of the organization Puente, former State Senate majority leader Alfredo Gutierrez, and two legal observers — attorneys Sunita Patel of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Roxana Orrell of the National Lawyers Guild. In addition, longtime Arizona Republic photographer Dave Seibert was detained and handcuffed for two hours.

Ernesto Lopez was among several demonstrators who chained themselves to the Phoenix jail.

    ERNESTO LOPEZ: I’m not too happy about Arpaio being out in the community today. I’m not too happy about Obama sending troops down to the border. And it doesn’t look like reform is going to happen anytime soon. So we felt like we had to do something to make Obama listen — not just Obama, not just Arpaio and Jan Brewer, everybody listen — and that laws like SB 1070 are not — are not just, and we don’t want them anymore, and not just in Arizona, but these types of things are happening all over the state, all over the country. And we’re fed up.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, here in New York, hundreds marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in a solidarity march on Thursday morning.

    PROTESTERS: Up with the people! Yeah, yeah! I say up with the people! Yeah, yeah! I say down with the system!

    LETICIA ALANIS: I’m Leticia Alanis from the organization La Unión in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I think it’s important that everybody raise their voices against SB 1070 and all other bills that try to criminalize immigrants. Immigrants are our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, and they contribute to this country, so we should stand up now and really recognize their contributions.

    KEVIN DAVIS: Hi. My name is Kevin Davis. I’m actually a youth organizer for the Ya-Ya Network, which is Youth Activists-Youth Allies. Honestly, we’re all one country, and we’re all united, so the fact that one state is hurting, all of us are hurting, and the fact that one race is hurting, all of us are hurting.

    CLEMENTINA: Well, I’m Clementina from Vamos Unidos. We are here to support our brothers and sisters from Arizona. SB 1070 affects us everywhere. We started to see, as street vendors here in New York, when as soon as the law was implied over there in Arizona, a week later they were asking us for our immigration status to renew our vendor’s license or take our vendor’s license.

    MONAMI MAULIK: So, my name is Monami Maulik, and I am the executive director of DRUM. DRUM stands for Desis Rising Up and Moving. Whatever happens in Arizona, those same anti-immigrant policies find their way up all throughout the United States. For the last ten years, Arizona has been a testing ground for the harshest anti-immigrant policies. And so, for example, the Governor of New York State signed Secure Communities already in New York, which has not yet gone into effect, but will, and when it does, it will funnel thousands more into deportation. Just across the river, the Governor has signed the 287(g) program, authorizing police officers to arrest people based on immigration status. So, we feel that Arizona, maybe that law is not happening here, but there are many other harsh anti-immigrant deportation provisions that our communities are feeling right here in New York City.

    SARAH: My name is Sarah, and I’m part of the Boycott Arizona, New York City committee. We had a press conference for support Resolution 0224 at City Hall this Tuesday. The Resolution 0224 is a declaring of an official boycott against Arizona state, and that would mean any business travel that would be going in Arizona would be barred, anyone from here going there. Municipal bonds would not be accepted from Arizona. Also conventions and any type of business, we just would not — we would not hold any business with Arizona.

AMY GOODMAN: Pro-immigrant rights activists who walked over the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday here in New York, interviewed by Nicole Salazar and Andalusia Knoll.

This is Democracy Now!,, as we turn now to — back to Phoenix to Carlos Garcia, the lead organizer for the Puente Movement.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

Can you talk about what happened yesterday in Arizona and where you’re going from here, Carlos?

CARLOS GARCIA: Sure. Yesterday was a very intense day here in Phoenix, Arizona. We had eighty-three people arrested in total, in three different sites: three at a federal courthouse, fifty in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s offices, and thirty shutting down Arpaio’s jail. Also, five individuals were arrested the day before.

We had one great accomplishment yesterday. Because of our actions, we were able to postpone Sheriff Arpaio’s sweep of our community, meaning families were not separated and the community was not terrorized, at least for the period of time that we were protesting.

And in the solidarity actions that happened across the country, I think the message was heard loud and clear, that we will not put up with what is left of SB 1070, we’ll not put up with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, not put up with 287(g) or Secure Communities.

I think, moving forward here in Phoenix, what we’re doing is really concentrating on organizing our community, building what we’re calling “barrio defense committees,” committees that will in turn help us strategize and fight back against future bills like SB 1070 and politicians like Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Carlos Garcia, there’s been some uncertainty in terms of the boycott situation. I know that US Representative Raúl Grijalva, immediately after the court decision, called for an end to the boycott. What is — of Arizona. What’s your position on that issue?

CARLOS GARCIA: We are remaining strong that we need to continue to boycott Arizona, not only because of the pieces left in 1070, but also what Sheriff Joe Arpaio is continuing to do here in Arizona. I don’t know if folks understand that yesterday laws, new laws, came into effect with 1070 that, the day before that, we did not have. We now have to deal with anti-solicitation bill that are targeting day laborers. Municipalities and police agencies are forced to work under federal enforcement. It’s what they call the anti-sanctuary city piece. And then we have really concern in a law that’s coming into effect with SB 1070 in regards to transportation and harboring, that can make it a crime if someone is driving or housing an undocumented person. The question we have with that is, is anyone that enters your home or that you’re giving a ride to, are you going to have to ask for their passport, or else people will then be liable for criminal charges? So I think the pieces that were left of SB 1070 are really intense, and folks are failing to see that, yes, it could have been a lot worse with the pieces that were taken out, but it’s still a really bad situation with the new law of SB 1070.

AMY GOODMAN: Carlos Garcia, will your protests continue?

CARLOS GARCIA: Our protests will continue. We will continue to organize in our community. And if yesterday we were able to accomplish in stopping Joe Arpaio because of individuals that are going to be able to maybe be detained one or two days and then released, if that’s going to mean stopping deportations or long-term detention or people being separated from their families, then we really have to consider, as a community here in Arizona, to start doing that.

AMY GOODMAN: Carlos Garcia, we want to thank you for being with us, lead organizer for the Puente Movement.

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