USA: Rallying Cries for Immigration Reform

In the United States, immigration reform activists have taken to the streets – and the internet – in order to create momentum for comprehensive changes in immigration law. A key hope is for the government to create a path to legal citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented people already living in the country. Fixing the broken immigration system is something groups on opposing sides of the political spectrum agree requires critical attention.

Arizona in the eye of the storm

This month, Arizona enacted a controversial law – S.B. 1070 – that gives police powers to demand to see immigration documents from anyone in Arizona that appears not to be American. President Obama himself called the measure “misguided” during a naturalization ceremony at the White House on the same day S.B. 1070 was signed into law on April 23.

Outcries of civil rights infringements are making the rounds in the blogs and on social networking sites. The hashtag #LegalizeAZ surfaced on Twitter for information-sharing regarding S.B. 1070 protests. Several twitter posts are also spreading the message to petition Eric Holder the U.S. Attorney General to step in and put a stop to S.B. 1070. According to the Washington Post, Holder said the federal government may be taking Arizona to court over the new law.

Citizens on social networking sites are also encouraging people to participate in widespread Arizona boycotts. Latinunionchicago uploaded a video on YouTube chronicling the boycott of Arizona’s baseball team the Diamondbacks during a game against the Chicago Cubs. Demonstrators even compared S.B. 1070 to discriminatory laws of Nazi Germany.

Activists boycott Arizona's baseball team the Diamondbacks due to recent immigration law S.B. 1070

Others are finding moments of creativity amidst political unrest. Zitherguy read a poem titled “Goodbye Tenochitlan” on YouTube in deference to activists and artists Zack de la Rocha and Ernesto Yerena. Both have spent considerable energy defending the rights of vulnerable immigrants and indigenous Mexicans through music and art.

Goodbye Tenochitlan poem makes a reference to activists voicing their dissent against S.B. 1070

Challenges to the Arizona law

Supporters of S.B. 1070 argue that the federal government is taking too long to fix a broken immigration system and that national security is at stake, especially in U.S. states along the southern border area where rampant drug smuggling is an issue. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer who signed the bill into law on April 23, said the measure would help put a stop to the “murderous greed” of the drug cartels. Previous highly controversial measures to stop the flow of drug cartel related trafficking along the southern border, includes the construction of a border wall between the southern U.S. border states and Mexico. The wall has yet to be completed.

Pumas Unleashed, a blog that focuses on free speech issues, writes about the new law in Arizona, and puts forth an argument that it appears to be constitutionally invalid. Phoenix, Arizona mayor, Phil Gorman also plans to challenge the constitutional validity of the Arizona law . He believes the new law leaves the city vulnerable to expensive racial profiling lawsuits. The mayor of Flagstaff, Arizona mayor, Sara Presler, is considering joining forces with Gorman. She is concerned the additional policing responsibilities would overwhelm their cash-strapped budget. Another official concerned with the costs of the bill is Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Homeland Security Department. She has argued against S.B. 1070 because it siphons limited resources from her budget.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders stepped forward on April 29 to challenge S.B. 1070, filing one of two prominent lawsuits against the new law. The second lawsuit was filed by a veteran police officer from Tucson, Arizona. Additional lawsuits are planned by MALDEF, the ACLU and the National Immigration Law Center.

Latina Lista writes that S.B. 1070 may have functioned as Obama’s tipping point for action.

Whatever the source, President Obama seems to have gotten the message that as long as Congress and his administration put immigration reform on the backburner, the chasm of racial tension in this country is only going to get deeper — and potentially deadly violent.

That concern to head off any further volatility, fueled by states adopting their own immigration laws, may have been the motivation for Pres. Obama to call the Senate's newest member today, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. Not to chitchat but to tell him to get ready — Democrats will be moving forward with immigration reform in a month.

The March for America

Many immigrant rights groups are concerned President Obama is not following through on promises made during his presidential election campaign. On March 21 there was a rally in Washington D.C. — The March for America — on a day that healthcare reform took most of the political and media spotlight. Despite the difficulty getting their cause heard, thousands of immigrants from different parts of the world were present. Smaller rallies have followed in cities with large immigrant populations including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle and Miami.

StephenNielsen18, a producer of citizen media from the D.C.-metro area, attended the rally on March 21 and interviewed a Catholic group about their concerns and hopes regarding immigration reform.

Catholic activist speaks about immigration reform at The March for America

Carlos in DC, a blogger who writes about his life in the nation’s capital with an emphasis on race, community, and immigration reform, also attended the rally on March 21. He interviewed notable participants including the Civil Rights Leader Rev. Jesse Jackson and Congressman Xavier Becerra, a Democrat from California’s 31st District based in Los Angeles. Carlos in DC also interviewed several grassroots organizers among them members from who carried and displayed a Dream Quilt: a large quilt constructed of colorful patches where undocumented students inscribed their dreams for a brighter future through access to higher education.

March for America Rally in the Nation's Capital on March 21, 2010


  • Viki

    The politicians get funding from most of the businesses that hire illegals, the businessmen needs illegals for cheap labor, the politicians need businesses for donation, who are you and me to get in between? We are only giving hard-time to poor, uneducated illegals who are already living like slaves…. “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t fight back.” God Bless America and Gos Bless US all!

  • kactuz

    Even more than business, it is the politicians that need and use illegals – and illegals use and abuse taxpayers. Note that while many illegals work
    hard and contribute, an equal number comes to the US only for the benefits and the easy life of welfare. That is the sad truth and the activists and politicans will not be honest about this.


  • M.V.S.Karan

    I remember reading somewhere that the African-Americans, Latinos and Asians comprise almost 34% of the American population today. And there is a projection that their strength will increase to 51% by 2040. I do not know whether these figures are accurate, but the implication of this demographic shift across social, economic, political, ethnic and cultural lines across the country is bound to be significant. Perhaps it is time for the dominant race in America to act with the wisdom that the manifest destiny of the country now lies west of the Pacific coast!

  • It’s too bad that both the Democrats and Republicans insist on obsessing over all the little mice while ignoring the elephant in the barn that drove them over the border, the incurably corrupt Mexican govt. that is controlled by elite fatcats and criminal cartels and lives on the backs of the masses, causing them to cross the border for a fairer shake despite all obstacles. Instead of generating heat and smoke, it’s time for both parties to do the math and unite behind my Megamerge Dissolution Solution of Congress working with the Mexican people to dissolve their govt. and failed dependent country in exchange for creating 10+ new U.S. states, allowing all 414 million Americans to freely move among all 60+ states sans passports, and expanding the U.S. border to the oceans where it can finally be controlled. Old Mexico will turn into 10+ vibrant new economic zones attracting southward migration and generating millions of new jobs, for a win-win solution. With broad bipartisan support Congress can do it in just years. Tell your friends of both parties to drop their infighting and non-solutions and study the MMDS at my site:

  • Gao

    There is more population on the east coast of USA than west coast.
    Most immigrants on east coast are legal, are not criminals, and do not live on welfare programs though.

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  • A criminal is forever a criminal, so as an illegal citizen is always an illegal citizen. For this, they should be deported. There are more legal migrants who are waiting to do their job. These are laborers who are willing to compensate taxes as unwilling to illegals who do not pay their taxes.

  • socalrob

    Immature boycotts and oppositions are like arrows hitting an armored vehicle, wont do much harm, the law SB1070 is approved at 70 percent by AMERICA, the sleeping giant, tons of proud non-illegal Americans prepare a summer vacation or other business with AZ. Also when illegals are gone, no more draining the state billions, eventually AZ will become a real nice clean and rich state while Mexifornia and other no-gutts states will decay more. Eventually boycotters themselves may want to secretely come to AZ, how embarassing… GO AZ, go SB1070!

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    Wow, your ignorance is astounding Socalrob. First off, I’m not sure where you get that 70 percent approval rating. One can only guess Fox News or some other media controlled by the right. Second, I think tourism is going to quickly decline in Arizona. In fact there has been an increase in “Come to Arizona” PSAs because of the backlash they’ve received from the public. I guarantee tourism is going to be hit hard in Arizona, and good thing.
    Third, what I’m most concerned about are your latter comments. The fact that Arizona is now going to be a “nice CLEAN and RICH state while MEXIFORNIA… will decay more.” How insulting and racist! Not only are you implying that ALL immigrants are dirty and poor, you’re assuming they all come from Mexico. In fact a large portion of immigrants come here (from all over Central/South America and the Caribbean) for education and a chance at a better life. Many of these people will return home with this added knowledge, in order to enrich the lives of their own countrymen and women. There a number of immigrants in my grad classes doing just that. Do the research before you make unfounded racist comments. You just make yourself look ridiculous. But you know what, good for you and your “clean and rich” friends. I guarantee they won’t be so “rich” anymore without that cheap labor force to exploit.

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