Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Arizona Backlash Begins

Protesters chanting "no deportations today" blockaded the federal detention centre in Broadview, Illinois this morning, preventing a van of deportees leaving for Chicago O'Hare airport 20km to the East. The action is part of a country-wide series of protests against Arizona's new immigration law, with many of the 300 who people demonstrated at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility camping out overnight prior to beginning their dawn blockade.

Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, which is due to come into force in the summer, will effectively enshrine 'racial profiling' into state law as it allows the police to stop and question anyone they suspect is an 'illegal' immigrant and demand paperwork (visa, passport, green card, etc.) to 'prove' their immigration status. Currently they can only do that if the person is suspected of participating in criminal activity.

Whilst only classified as a misdemeanour rather than felony crime, it will still carry a fine of $500-2,500 or up to 6 months imprisonment and potential deportation by federal authorities. Day labourers will also be banned from gathering on the side of highways as they currently do touting for work as they and anybody who stops to hire them or pick them up is also breaking the law. The law also allows for private citizens to bring civil actions against state officials or agencies that they consider are not enforcing the law vigorously enough!

Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, has condemned the new law and warned that relations with the border state will suffer as a result and already a boycott of the state has started from amongst others the American Immigration Lawyers Association, who have cancelled their Autumn convention which was due to be held there. Also prominent amongst those organising boycotts is the teamster union whose trucker members are refusing to deliver goods to the state.

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