More than 100 protesters chanted, sang and shook noisemakers Wednesday morning as they marched six miles to Phoenix City Hall in support of day laborers and in protest of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s enforcement of federal immigration laws.
The march began about 9 a.m. from Pruitt’s furniture store near 35th Street and Thomas Road, where weekly immigration rallies have heated up in recent weeks.
Phoenix police reported no incidents of violence or arrests associated with the march.
Arizona State University law student Martín Quezada, who marched Wednesday, blamed local authorities for mischaracterizing hard-working Hispanic immigrants as criminals.
“I’m fed up with what’s going on in the immigration fight,” Quezada said. “I’m fed up with how people are being presented.”
Former state House Minority Leader John Loredo said he was marching to oppose the Phoenix Police Department’s recent decision to discuss whether to check arrestees’ immigration status.
“The new order will drive up crime in Hispanic neighborhoods and it’ll drive up hate crimes against Hispanics, legal or illegal,” said Loredo, who has worked on public safety issues for the Phoenix City Council.
Loredo also said that authorities exaggerate how much illegal immigrants are responsible for crime.
“I don’t hear Arpaio or (county attorney Andrew) Thomas talk about the white male problem in this county,” Loredo said.
Arpaio spoke to the media at the start of the march.
He said immigration activists have refused to meet with him to discuss their concerns.
“These people don’t want to listen to the sheriff,” Arpaio said. “I tried to talk to them.”
Arpaio has been criticized in recent weeks for focusing on illegal immigration enforcement while his agency has exceeded his budget by more than $2 million.
But he said Wednesday that a $2 million allocation from the Legislature has funded his crackdown on illegal immigration, and the money has not come out of his regular budget.
The friction at Pruitt’s is two years old.
Tension flared in recent months when Pruitt’s owner Roger Sensing began hiring off-duty sheriff’s deputies to patrol the property and ward off day laborers who gather near the store.
Arpaio said his deputies have arrested 60 people near the store on suspicion of violating federal immigration laws.