Sunday, May 9, 2010

UA students protest new Arizona immigration law

By Jazmine Woodberry
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Chants of “Two weeks, too late,” “World-class sellout,” and “Our people’s rights are under attack! What do we do? Fight back!” rang out while hundreds of students sat under the blazing sun to rally against the new Senate Bill 1070.

A slew of speakers discussed, in volumes, the problems with the new bill.

“The laws are intended to protect them, not target them,” said John Washington, founder of UAgainst SB1070 and creative writing graduate student. “It’s a misguided law based in hate and fear. We don’t want this law abided by. We don’t want campus police extensively trained in upholding legislation that forces them to racially profile our fellow students, staff, faculty and friends.”

At the time of Washington’s speech, there were 1,424 signatures on the petition to get UA President Robert Shelton to formally denounce the bill.

By the end of the rally, the official count of signatures reached more than 1,700, according to Washington, with people still handing in signatures as the crowd disbursed.

People from across Tucson came out to protest the law as well.

Richard Martinez, a lawyer representing Officer Martin H. Escobar, the Tucson police officer who filed a suit against the new immigration law.

“We have some dinosaurs yet to go extinct north of the Gila,” Martinez said of those who propagate the law. “Those dinosaurs are wreaking havoc on the lives that Latinos and all people of color in this state but they will go extinct. With your efforts, our boycott, our legal action, they will go extinct much sooner than later.”

Raul Alcaraz, of the Migrant Justice Community, came out against the law, stating that it’s more than just the effects on Hispanics, but it is about the effects on every minority in the community.

“I come today as a Southwestern, queer, anti-capitalist migrant abolitionist that struggles for the liberation of all people,” Alcaraz said. “SB 1070 is a fight against over 515 of colonial occupation of these lands.

Alcaraz continued, stirring large roars of approval from the crowd.

“It’s either freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by UA students and staff as well.

Lorenzo Gamboa, a Mexican-American studies graduate student, reflected the thoughts of many, that creating an easier immigration process would curb illegal immigration. Gamboa stated that it currently takes between three and 22 years to earn citizenship.

“Can you wait 22 years to feed your family?” Gamboa asked.

Manuel Muñoz, a creative writing assistant professor, expressed a faculty voice of support.

“This is a student led, student driven movement,” Muñoz said, “but that doesn’t mean that the faculty isn’t behind you. We certainly are because a world class institution does not traffic in this kind of anxiety.”

Francisco Baires, a Mexican-American and Raza studies graduate student, spoke about not just the focus of the protest, but for the focus of students in the future.

“People are calling for us all to get involved,” Baires said, urging students on campus to be energized around this movement. “We can’t just talk about it anymore. We need to be about it.”

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