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New York Immigrants Protest New Arizona Immigration Law

  • Carolyn Weaver

Immigration-rights activists in New York demonstrated Tuesday against a new law passed in the southwestern state of Arizona. They said it will encourage racial profiling and break up families by permitting the indefinite detention of suspected undocumented immigrants. And the protestors said it will harm communities by making undocumented immigrants fearful of co-operating with police investigating crimes.

Immigration activists held a lunch-time rally to protest Arizona's new law that is aimed at deporting illegal immigrants. They said it would encourage racial profiling by allowing local police to demand to see the immigration papers of anyone whom they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant.

"We are here to denounce the racist and discriminatory law that was passed in Arizona," said protester Sandy Placido.

The demonstrators also announced a Freedom of Information lawsuit to force disclosure of the extent of a program called Secure Communities, which partners local police with immigration enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security.

"We see the collusion between local police and the Department of Homeland Security, and the devastating effect on our families. So what is happening in Arizona is not simply a unique situation. It is just an extension and an outgrowth of a very dangerous trend that we have seen in our country over the last few years," said Angela Fernandez, executive director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

The Arizona law, which was signed into law last Friday, requires police to ask for identification from anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant. Latinos in particular fear that they will be racially targeted by police on the basis of their appearance, and said it will make undocumented immigrants reluctant to report crimes or cooperate in police investigations.

The New York demonstrators, who included activists from Latino, Caribbean, and Asian communities in New York as well as local clergy members, called on President Obama to act immediately to stop Arizona's law from being implemented. They also demanded the President issue a moratorium on deportation and detention of suspected illegal aliens until federal immigration reform is passed.

Similar rallies were also held in Arizona, Illinois and California.

In Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that the law doesn't take effect for 90 days. She told Congress that that would allow time for the Justice Department to, quote, look at whether the law meets constitutional safeguards or not.

Supporters of the law in Arizona say it will help cut down on crime by illegal immigrants from Mexico.