Latinos throughout the Valley will dress in white T-shirts and take to the streets of downtown Phoenix on Tuesday morning for the second year in a row to demand immigration reform.
This time, however, marchers likely will encounter more counterdemonstrators and even dissension within their own ranks.
Event organizers anticipate about 5,000 people will march from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to the Arizona Capitol, where they will hear a series of speeches calling on Congress to pass “fair and just” immigration reform. The march will mark the one-year anniversary of “A Day Without Immigrants” in which Hispanics across the nation were called upon to boycott American products, stay home from work and cease crossing the border for the day.
“We are going to be calling on everyone to march, not only the Hispanics, but calling the Americans, the Anglos, the African-Americans — everyone who thinks the Hispanics in the United States are a positive factor that are helping with the economy,” said Francisco Mendoza, an organizer of Arizona Marcha, a coalition of about 20 groups that planned the march.
The Phoenix Police Department is planning to accommodate double the estimated turnout, which by most estimates will be drastically fewer than the 100,000-plus marchers who spilled into the streets of downtown Phoenix at last year’s April 10 immigration march.
In addition, members of antiillegal immigration groups, including United for a Sovereign America and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, expect a few hundred people to turn out for a counterdemonstration at the Capitol across from where the pro-immigration groups will erect their stage.
The counterprotest will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will feature apple pie, ice cream and a chance for people to sign petitions to put two immigration proposals by Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, on the November ballot, said Rusty Childress, founder and state coordinator of United for a Sovereign America.
“We’re not trying to be reactive and counterprotest their group,” Childress said. “We’re simply celebrating American values.”
Arizona Marcha, a temporary nonprofit coalition created specifically for this year’s march, is made up of about 20 organizations and individuals including Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix, Inmigrantes Sin Fronteras (Immigrants Without Borders), Mano a Manos Unidos (Hand in Hand United), the National Action Network and others.
Noticeably absent from the scene this year will be Radio Campesina, the Spanish-language radio station founded by César Chávez, and Somos América, a coalition of pro-immigration groups that organized last year’s rally.
Radio Campesina will not be participating because employees there do not believe another march is the answer to immigration reform, said María Barquin, the station’s local programming director.
“I think we already marched and made a statement last year,” she said. “We believe it’s time to educate our audience and our community.”
Héctor Yturralde, president of Somos América, said his group supports the march, but will not be participating mostly because it disagrees with some of the positions that Inmigrantes Sin Fronteras founder Elías Bermúdez has taken on immigration issues.
Bermúdez has angered some of his counterparts in the pro-immigration movement with his conservative views. Specifically, he has offended some people for saying that most illegal immigrants are not seeking citizenship and would be content with obtaining work visas.
Mendoza and fellow organizer Lydia Hernández both said they think this year’s march will be much more organized than last year.
The group has been raising money to pay for the roughly $80,000 event, and this time around, there will be free parking at the coliseum and several taxi companies providing free rides for marchers. They also hope to have between 500 and 1,000 security guards on hand to maintain order.
Hernández said she will not be disappointed if fewer people show up this year because the political climate has changed since last year’s march.
“There is a lot of fear right now,” she said, adding that immigrants who are too afraid to take to the streets have been encouraged to put up yard signs to support the march.
Phoenix police said they do not anticipate any confrontations during the two events.
At the Capitol
The Arizona Legislature is considering several bills to address immigration. Among them:
HB2467: Bars state and local agencies from issuing a license to anyone living in the country illegally. The measure passed the House, is yet to be heard by a Senate committee. Sponsor: Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa.
HB2589: Would make standing on a street corner to solicit work a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail or a $2,500 fine. Awaiting the governor’s signature. Sponsor: Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills.
HB2751: Appropriates $25 million from the state General Fund to establish and support an Arizona Border Enforcement Team. The measure also directs all state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. Passed by three House committees but has not been voted on the floor. Sponsor: Rep. Pearce, R-Mesa.
HB2766: Allows the Arizona National Guard to act in a primary role to prevent border crossings. Appropriates $10 million from state General Fund to the Department of Emergency Military Affairs for expenses. Passed the House, yet to be heard on the Senate floor. Sponsor: Rep. Warde Nichols, RGilbert.
HB2779: Bars employers from knowingly hiring illegal migrants. First violation is a felony with a fine of $2,500 to $50,000. Fines are increased after a second violation to $5,000 to $100,000. Passed the House, yet to be voted on in the Senate. Sponsor: Rep. Pearce, R-Mesa.
SOURCE: Arizona Legislature, www.azleg.gov
The Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy (STRIVE) Act, HR1645, would:
• Increase border security with more personnel and technology.
• Bolster interior enforcement by giving employers the means to verify an employee’s legal status, and punish employers who cheat.
• Create a guest worker program for foreign nationals to work here temporarily.
• Offer a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who pay fees, back taxes, learn English, and leave the country and re-enter legally.
Referred to two House committees: judiciary and homeland security.
Sponsors: Reps. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.
In the U.S. Senate, lawmakers are mulling an immigration judgeships bill, SB389. It would:
• Create 10 new permanent and temporary federal judgeships for the U.S. District Courts to deal with the backlog of immigration-related cases.
• Arizona would receive five of the 10 new judgeships — four permanent and one temporary. The others would go to Texas and New Mexico.
Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sponsors: Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Pete Domenici, R-N.M.
SOURCE: The Library of Congress, www.thomas.gov
Tribune writers Paul Giblin and Dennis Welch contributed to this report