Phoenix, AZ – At the heart of the protests is a bill on the desk of Gov. Jan
Brewer which would put new mandates on police to ask people they
come into official contact with whether they are in this country
legally. While SB 1070 precludes race or ethnicity being the sole
reason to question someone, it does permit either to be a factor.
That language, coupled with other provisions clearly aimed at
illegal immigrants, provoked a rally outside the Capitol urging
the governor to reject it. Some of the pleas were relatively
benign, like the prayer by the Rev. Warren Stewart urging the
Almighty to intercede.
(We plead on to you this day that you would move upon our
governor who professes and espouses to be a Christian governor,
who makes her decisions based on the word of God, we pray God
that she would lean on you and would lean on your word as never
But some of the rhetoric was much more heated, such as from
Hispanic activist Salvador Reza.
(It's about time that we stopped protecting the people that are
oppressing us. And it's about time that we start demanding that
they do the right thing.)
Business owner Sheridan Bailey weighed in with his own
objections. Bailey said the answer to the problem of illegal
immigrants is what he called comprehensive and practical and
sensible immigration reform.
(Senate Bill 1070 is neither practical nor sensible. We oppose
Senate Bill 1070 because we believe it is expensive, dangerous,
indecent and sends the wrong messages to businesses who are
considering relocation to Arizona.)
Some 75 yards away another group of students gathered for their
own protest. Nine of them chained themselves to the doors of the
Old Capitol, saying they intended to stay there until Brewer
vetoed the bill. They didn't get that chance. Capitol police got
a bolt cutter, separated them and arrested them on charges of
disorderly conduct. A little further away, another group
including Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox went to the
governor's office to present her with petitions urging a veto.
Only thing is, Brewer was in Tucson. So they had to give them to
Paul Senseman, her press aide.
(We have submitted over 83,000 signatures of petitions of e-mails
that have been sent in, small cards that have been filled out by
Arizona voters. We hope this will persuade the governor to look
at this differently.)
There was also reaction away from the Capitol. Pima County
Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said he will ask his county attorney for
an opinion on what his officers can and cannot do if Brewer signs
the measure. But Dupnik said he believes the bill is unnecessary.
He even came up with his own word to describe it.
(From my point of view, the whole thing is an exercise in
political fornica-boobery. We have the authority now to stop
people that we think are illegal and call the Border Patrol. And
we do that.)
Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry
Goddard also weighed in, echoing comments previously made by
lawmakers from his own party that the legislation does nothing to
improve border security. But Goddard also said that the wording
of the bill makes it legally suspect, saying it could lead to
illegal racial profiling. The legislation also caught the
attention of Roger Mahoney, the cardinal of Los Angeles. In a
blog post, he said the legislation amounts to -- quote --
reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby
people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on
any suspicion of documentation. What the governor will do remains
unclear. Senseman said Brewer has been contacted by both
supporters and foes of the measure. But he provided no insight
into her thinking.
(We deeply appreciate folks voicing their comments about this
particular bill, and about every bill.)
Brewer has through Saturday to decide what to do. For Arizona
Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.