Protests Begin as Immigration Bill Waits on Arizona Governor’s Desk

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by
Channel 15 News (ABC/Phoenix)

Protests Begin as Immigration Bill Waits on Arizona Governor’s Desk

by
Tim Vetscher

Protest at Arizona state capitol. Though Governor Brewer has yet to speak out about the bill, she now has five days to sign the bill into law or veto it, sending it back to the legislature. Opponents of the Senate Bill 1070 held a vigil outside the State Capitol during the lunch-hour Monday, showing solidarity in their hope for her veto. (Photo: John Pellizzari)

PHOENIX – Protests have begun at the state capitol today
as a controversial immigration bill waits on Arizona Governor Jan
Brewer’s desk.

Arizona senators passed a bill Monday that would require
law enforcement officers to question anyone they believe might be in
the country illegally.

Some students chained themselves to
the door at the capitol on Tuesday, but were later unchained and
detained by police.

The bill passed
on Monday by a vote of 17-11.

"I'm in a celebratory nature, I'm
going out to have a drink," said Kathryn Kobor, a supporter of Senate
Bill 1070.

Passage sends the bill to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has not
taken a position on the measure championed by fellow Republicans and
already signed by the House.

According to Brewer's spokesperson,
she now has until 5 p.m. Saturday to act on the bill.

Brewer can
sign the bill, veto it or do nothing, which would still allow the bill
to become law.

"It's morally inconsiderate and not right.
It's not right," said Sonnia Whiteman, an opponent of SB 1070.

It
appears some of the nation's prominent religious leaders would agree
with Whiteman.

In a Sunday post on his blog, Los Angeles
archbishop Roger Mahony likened the potential law to "German Nazi and
Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one
another in to the authorities."

Though Governor Brewer has yet to
speak out about the bill, she now has five days to sign the bill into
law or veto it, sending it back to the legislature.

Opponents of
the Senate Bill 1070 held a vigil outside the State Capitol during the
lunch-hour Monday, showing solidarity in their hope for her veto.

Nearly
30 opponents of the bill also held a candlelight vigil outside Brewer's
home Sunday night in protest.

Members of the group said they
believe the law would give local law enforcement license to racially
profile.

"The bottom line of what (SB 1070) does is victimize an
entire class of people," said Antonio Bustamante with the Hispanic Bar
Association.  "It's a Bill of Rights for racial profiling."

The
law would require police to question people about their immigration
status if there is any reason to believe they are in the country
illegally.

"Right now, the way things are being targeted, is that
all Latinos are undocumented, and that's absolutely not true," said
protester Alejandra Gomez.  "I'm a citizen, and if I'm pulled over,
that's ridiculous. It's unjust, it's immoral and it's inhumane." 

The
bill is sponsored by Senator Russell Pearce.

"I find it amazing
that we continue to debate an issue that's so simple to me -- enforce
the laws," said Pearce at a recent meeting.

Supporters say the
bill uncuffs law enforcement to protect the state from violent
criminals. U.S. Sen. John McCain endorsed the measure Monday.

"I
think the people of Arizona understandably are frustrated and angry,"
the Arizona Republican said. "It's also a commentary on the frustration
that our state Legislature has that the federal government has not
fulfilled its constitutional responsibilities to secure our borders."

An editorial in The New York Times calls the bill
"harsh and mean-spirited."

It says the bill "is a grab bag of
measures to enlist law enforcement and government at every level to
expose and expel the undocumented."

Some local law enforcement
agencies take the view that the new rules would leave them vulnerable to
lawsuits if officers are perceived not to be aggressive enough, and
that it puts a burden on them to enforce more laws when they are already
stretched thin from budget cuts.

"If we've got to ship them down
to MCSO -- they charge us, and they charge us a lot, and it will
bankrupt our city," said Mesa Police Sgt. Bryan Soller, who is president
of the Fraternal Order of Police Mesa Lodge's No. 9.

The bill
would also make it illegal to block traffic when looking for or picking
up day laborers, and would put aliens who are not carrying their green
cards at risk of arrest.

"I understand the value of handcuffs,
when they're on the right people," said Pearce.

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