Friday, June 4, 2010

Tempe march against immigration law set for Saturday

Members of a local community group opposed to Arizona's new immigration law are calling for Tempe city council members to publicly defy the state with a declaration of non-compliance.

The group plans to march along Mill Avenue Saturday in an attempt to pressure city officials to publicly reject the law. A declaration of non-compliance would keep city officials and law enforcement officers from enforcing SB 1070, essentially making Tempe a "1070-free zone," said Alysse Chinnock, a 22-year-old Arizona State University student and community activist.

Organizers say they want to see Tempe follow the cities of Flagstaff and Tucson in publicly condemning the law. Elected officials in both cities voted to pursue legal action against the state last month, citing concerns over potential rights violations and boycotts by other cities and organizations.

Many of the protesters are ASU students who organized themselves on the Facebook group "No to SB 1070 in Tempe," which has 128 members. Group members said they are concerned about the effect of the law on the university, which has many international students and faculty members.

"There is a challenge for a lot of non-English speakers in explaining their immigration status to officers," said Chinnock, who works as an administrative assistant in ASU's ESL office. "It's making ASU a scary place to live."

Nikki Ripley, a spokeswoman for the city of Tempe, said the city plans to comply with the controversial new immigration law.

"It is our job as a city to comply with state laws," Ripley said in an e-mail.

The legislation allows citizens to challenge state, county and local officials who enact any policy "that limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent." The city attorney's office declined to comment on the potential consequences of non-compliance with state law.

The protest is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Clark Park, on 15th Street between Hardy Drive and Mill Avenue. Participants plan to march from the park to the intersection of University Drive and Mill Avenue.

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