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Local activists head to AZ to protest new law

July 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Arizona's new immigration law, SB 1070, is set to go into effect Thursday, though a judge could put it on hold before then. Meanwhile, preparations are ramping up for both enforcing and protesting the new law.Representatives from the Coalition for Immigration Rights are scheduled to go to Arizona along with thousands of other people in the next couple of days, especially labor leaders and supporters, to protest the new law.

According to an exclusive Eyewitness News poll, a majority of Angelenos support the new Arizona law.

At the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor headquarters, community college volunteers got ready for Phoenix on Tuesday. They'll be traveling to Phoenix Thursday in an 11-bus caravan. About 550 people are expected to take that trip. Volunteers say they will carry no papers proving legality.

The new Arizona law they're protesting allows police to arrest you if you don't have proof of residency and are suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Police are allowed to question a suspect if he or she is stopped for other illegal activity.

"If you are white and you're walking down the street, you are not likely to be asked for your papers and to prove your citizenship," said L.A. County Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo. "But if you are not white, even if you are Canadian or English, from Britain, you will not be asked because you will not be suspected of not having your papers."

Protestors will include labor leaders, students and unions. An exclusive Eyewitness News poll shows that a clone of the Arizona law would pass in Los Angeles. Fifty-one percent of L.A.-area residents agree with the law; 40 percent disagree with the law; and 8 percent really don't know.

So it's not surprising when you hear the results from another question: Should California pass a similar law? Fifty percent of the people say yes it should; 43 percent say no; and 7 percent say they're not sure.

The opponents of the new immigration law are trying to stop it from taking effect on Thursday. They've asked a federal court for an injunction.

"I think that the Arizona law, the passage of the Arizona law, shows frustration with Congress and Congress's refusal and inability to pass comprehensive immigration reform," said Durazo. "So one is not mutually exclusive of the other."

"It is to show solidarity and let them know that not every student in Los Angeles, and not everyone in other states, will go ahead and stand for human rights to be violated," said Celina Benitez, Southern California Immigration Coalition.


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