Hispanic leaders are calling a series of high-profile demonstrations on Monday to call attention to immigration reform.
The feature event: A 21-mile human chain that would stretch from the Arizona Capitol, past the location of an immigration raid last week, past a high school and onto a regular site for day laborers, all in Phoenix.
“It’s essentially a symbolic gesture that’s being attempted, rather than an expectation that a multitude of people will be involved,” said Roberto Reveles, president of the sponsoring organization, We Are America.
Other components for the day of demonstrations are a work stoppage and consumer boycott.
Organizers are asking illegal immigrants, their families and their supporters to take a day off from their jobs and avoid making purchases of any kind that day.
The strategy is to show the economic impact of illegal immigrants as Congress continues to debate immigration policies.
Organizers were working Tuesday on several aspects of the planned event. The unresolved details include the specific route, the number of people required, the start time and the projected duration.
Organizers considered canceling the human chain idea last week following a series of raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at IFCO operations nationwide on April 19.
ICE agents arrested seven executives and hundreds of undocumented workers at the company that manufactures crates and pallets.
The arrests re-energized some of the demonstrators who marched from the State Fairgrounds to the Capitol on April 10, said Reveles, who worked as a congressional aide for 24 years.
“That kind of surprised me,” he said.
“Indeed, the workers that we have been in touch with said this is yet another indication that the government’s intent is piling an element of fear on the undocumented worker.”
Illegal immigrants already live in constant fear of being deported and separated from their families, said Reveles, a Gold Canyon retiree.
“The IFCO raid dramatizes in a way we couldn’t even talk about the disastrous effects of the failed immigration policy,” he said.
We Are America, a group that was formed for the April 10 march, supports a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States.
The consumer boycott is not intended to target any particular store or product, Reveles said.
Furthermore, the group is urging parents to keep their children in school on Monday.
Recent demonstrations are producing a backlash among Arizona voters, according to a statewide poll released Tuesday by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and KAET-TV (Channel 8).
The survey of 380 registered voters found that 52 percent thought the recent marches hurt the protesters’ cause, while 31 percent said the marches helped.
Arizonans are increasingly frustrated and conflicted about what should be done concerning illegal immigrants, said ASU professor and pollster Bruce Merrill.
“On the one hand, they want stronger enforcement and a more secure border to stop illegal immigration. On the other hand, a majority feels that illegal immigrants who have been in the country for some years should be allowed to stay, register, pay taxes and be put on a path to earn citizenship,” he said in a press release.
Four major points along the path of the human chain have been identified:
• The Arizona Capitol, 1700 W. Washington St.
• IFCO Systems facility, 250. S. 58th Ave.
• Trevor Browne High School, 7402 W. Catalina Drive
• The Home Depot, 3609 E. Thomas Road