Arizona Senate Bill 1070's Days of Rage

[Crossing the Line] The U.S. Supreme Court and President Barack Obama leave the undocumented and their allies no choice but to escalate civil disobedience

It led also to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice this year, aimed at the sheriff's widespread discriminatory policing.

All of this makes it obvious that increased civil disobedience is necessary to get the point across to the Obama administration.

"There needs to be a show of force," says Soto. "Meaning we're not going to let [the government] operate the way [it] wants to operate. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like."

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Isabel Garcia of the Tucson-based human-rights organization Coalition de Derechos Humanos agrees that Latinos and their supporters must ramp up public protests. "At some point . . . there will have to be a call for mass disobedience," she notes.

Garcia fears that what she calls the "Tucson model" will become standard throughout the country. Tucson is 60 miles north of the border, within the Border Patrol's constitution-free zone of operations. When the city's cops run across people they believe are undocumented, they call Border Patrol, and the suspected illegal immigrants are carted away in trucks that look like dog kennels.

"Here [in Tucson], you can be back across that border [into Mexico] in an hour, and your family doesn't know anything," says Garcia. "It's really brutal."

If the Supreme Court rules as predicted, Arizona law enforcement will have an "absolute license" to practice racial profiling, she adds.

Pablo Alvarado, director of the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, says his immigrant-rights coalition will "push back, hard," if the Supreme Court upholds the "papers, please" portion of SB 1070. That push-back will take many forms: legally (Alvarado's group already is a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against the bill); by supporting anti-SB 1070 legislation, such as California's proposed TRUST Act; through political pressure to create new "sanctuary cities"; and by taking it to the streets.

"We will create a [moral] dilemma for everyone, friends or foes," Alvarado promises of the coming wave of protest. His organization plans a Freedom Ride-style bus tour through states with laws similar to SB 1070. In the bus will be scores of undocumented families who will present themselves to local and federal authorities in different cities, daring law enforcement to arrest them.

Alvarado said the idea was inspired by students agitating for the DREAM Act nationwide. These activists, brought to this country when they were children, have declared themselves "undocumented and unafraid" while participating in acts of civil disobedience in Alabama; Washington, D.C.; Florida; and Arizona.

One of the more daring examples of DREAM Act civil disobedience occurred in March, when 150 student protesters blocked a street in west Phoenix. Six undocumented students chose to not move from the center of the street and were arrested, thus risking deportation. In a YouTube clip released to coincide with her arrest with the others, Daniela Cruz explained how she and fellow DREAMers were fed up with living in a limbo in which they cannot legally work or go to college at an in-state tuition rate. America is the only home they've ever known, and they demonstrated that they are through being victims. "I'm willing to risk everything I have," Cruz told her audience. "I'm willing to risk being deported because I'm done seeing people be scared."

To the surprise of both her and her jailers, ICE holds on Cruz and her cohorts were mysteriously lifted during their 28-hour stay in Arpaio's Fourth Avenue Jail. They were released on misdemeanor charges.

Cruz and her pals quickly became heroes in the Latino community. "One day, we'll be reading about them in history books!" declares Arizona state Senator Steve Gallardo, who is pushing for the repeal of SB 1070. Gallardo predicts increased public protests in the wake of the expected Supreme Court ruling. "I'll be right there with them," he says.

A demonstration by the Phoenix human-rights group Puente scheduled for June 23 will target Arpaio's infamous Tent City. Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists—who plan to convene in Phoenix that weekend for a national conference—will participate in the protest.

The Unitarians and Puente teamed up in 2010 for a massive show of anti-1070 civil disobedience that rocked Phoenix.

Puente's Carlos Garcia cites the example set by the DREAM Act kids as one to emulate. "When undocumented people confront the system, it crumbles," he says. "And it becomes clear they are more afraid of us than we are of them."

Given the status quo—a deadlocked Congress, an indifferent Supreme Court and a president who's playing politics at the expense of his Latino constituency—what's needed this election year is the type of unrest this country hasn't seen since the 1970s, something on par with the 2011 protests in Chile, during which thousands of students took over Santiago to protest that country's unequal education system.

A refrain from the Shining Soul song "Papers" sums up the situation Latinos find themselves in—once again:

"Click-clack/Where your papers at?/We under attack/Fight back/It's war."

Stephen Lemons is a staff writer and columnist for Phoenix New Times.

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Jon Stokes
Jon Stokes

"Today in America, one in four Latino voters knows someone in deportation proceedings." Tell me, how does someone end up in "deportation proceedings"? Oh, yes, that's BREAKING THE LAW. Quit insulting your readers by rehashing the old bumper-sticker buzzwords in a transparent attempt to make them feel sorry for criminals. Yes, we have sympathy for their families, just as we have sympathy for the families of anyone else whose disrespect for the law creates a hardship for them. But that doesn't mean the law itself is wrong. It means breaking the law is a bad idea.

No Dream Act 4 U
No Dream Act 4 U

How does mexico treat C.A. immigrants without papers? Yeah we know. So shut your FUCKING PIE HOLE PANCHO!!!


One comment made is that "browns" will be made 2nd class. Not "browns", undocumented "browns".


If someone wants to come to this country there is a legal way to do it. I don't care if your family is starving and you need to come where there are more jobs, you still have to follow the law.


obama,s policy to flood arizona with illegals so he can get votes...while the state is buried in debt from the illegal demanding services, which they should never have due to illegal entry...and the anchor babies that women from down south try so hard to get, so then they can steal benifits from the state, due to their illegal activity....they know that when they sneek into arizona...also , the illegals steal jobs, i work at a nursing facility in phoenix, i know at least 5 illegals there , taking jobs from those unemployed...that is not right


The crazy thing about all of this? MEXICO is rich in undeveloped Oil Fields...with many rich natural resources, but like this country, they don't utilize this gift. If Mexico developed even a quarter of their own natural resources? Mexicans wouldn't need to cross the border for work.

Armando Cedillo
Armando Cedillo

The repatriation of alien intruders to their homelands is the right and duty of every nation to its respective citizenry. Right now, the United States is in a perilous stage of its history - we are over-populated and quite unable to provided jobs for huge swaths of our citizenry. Our cities are denser and more congested than ever and yet media and political elites willfully disregard the wants and needs of the citizens. The upsides of illegal immigrants (cheap, docile labor) are outweighed by their negative impact upon our society. It is time for them to go.


illegal is illegal..............turn it around and look what Mexico's immigration rules are for being illegal in Mexico instead of the US. You would be locked up and never let out or fined to death.... Immigrants live 10 times better here than illegally than legally in their own country (and not only Mexico) why wouldn't they want to stay.

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