Chicago protesters criticize Ariz. immigration law

April 24, 2010 (CHICAGO)

It happened one day after hundreds demonstrated against the law outside of the state capitol in Phoenix.

There's also fallout across the border, as the president of Mexico warns that relations with Arizona will suffer because of the immigration law.

The reaction was similar from Hispanic and Latino leaders in Chicago Monday.

Protesters gathered at a detention center in Broadview Monday night. Some planned to camp out overnight to stage a second protest Tuesday morning. They are pushing for immigration reform and an end to deportation. And Arizona's passage of Senate bill 1070 has motivated them to work even harder.

"What it's done, I think, is waken up a lot of people and reminded a lot of us that if we don't push as hard as possible for immigration reform, one of the consequences is going to be more racial profiling like is happening right now in Arizona," said Leone Bicchiere, Chicago Workers Collaberative.

"I think the proposal in Arizona is going to have a very similar effect in terms of empowering a community," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, (D) Chicago.

Congressman Gutierrez was in Arizona for a rally Sunday. On Monday night in Chicago, he was one of the speakers at another rally aimed at Governor Pat Quinn. They want the governor to hire more Latinos. No one on his cabinet is Hispanic in a state where, they say, Latinos make up the largest ethnic population.

"It just seems like nobody is listening to what we're trying say. So I think now we are just angry and frustrated," said Ireni Conzueta, demonstrator.

Much of their frustration is aimed at Arizona many are concerned about the climate in Illinois.

Walter Bohorquez is facing possible deportation.

"Families are being destroyed. Families are being ripped apart. And we need to stop this," said Bohorquez.

Two other separate events were held in Chicago earlier in the day to protest the Arizona law.

Hispanic and Latino leaders gathered in the Loop to denounce what they say could happen to legal and illegal immigrants in Arizona. The demonstrators were very vocal, and many placed the blame squarely on the President Obama's shoulders for not fulfilling his promise to present a comprehensive immigration reform bill before Congress during his first 90 days in office.

They are calling on the president now to rectify the matter, while at the same time calling for a boycott of Arizona.

"I'm not making [any] more movements to Arizona, absolutely," said Juan Perez, a long-haul truck driver.

Perez must cross Arizona at least once a week to drop off his containers near the border with Mexico. He joined in Monday with the United Front of Immigrants to call for a boycott of all things Arizona, a message, they say, to the governor of Arizona for signing an immigration bill last Friday that requires immigrants to have their papers on them at all times in order to prove status if stopped by a police officer.

Some say the law is unconstitutional.

"I think that what President Obama should do at this point is go to the courts and stop this type of legislation that [overdoes] federal legislation," said Carlos Arango of the United Front of Immigrants.

"What has happened in Arizona is very similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. And if we don't wake up, this is going to be not just the Hispanics that are going to be affected. It's going to be people with accents. It's going to be people with different religions, people with different sexual orientations," said Ald. Daniel Solis of the 25th Ward.

At a separate event, several of the state's and city's Latino officials also gathered to protest the Arizona law and vowed to do everything they can to prevent something similar from happening in Illinois.

"One thing we do here, we make sure that we stop anti-immigrant legislation right from the beginning," said State Rep. Toni Berrios, (D) District 39. "This year, we had eight different pieces of anti-immigration legislation. We were able to stop all of these bills because we don't want Illinois to be anything like Arizona."

But not everyone believes that the Arizona law will lead to increased racial profiling and arbitrary police stops. Republican candidate for Cook County Commissioner Carl Segvich said Monday this is a positive measure.

"When a police officer pulls someone over, he is going to have the right to use his intelligence, and if he suspects they've done something wrong --and if he suspects them of being illegal-- he will ask for ID," Segvich said. "Illegal immigration is one thing. Legal immigration and assimilation is a different and a beautiful thing."

The issue will most likely end up in the courts. Some say, if anything good comes out of it, it will be that maybe it will push the president and the Congress to come up with a good comprehensive immigration bill.

A march calling on elected officials to do just that will take place Saturday, May 1 starting in Union Park.

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