Immigrant workers left their jobs Wednesday and lined Valley streets holding signs with slogans such as “I am your cook,” and “Sorry your house isn’t clean.”
Motorists passing by yelled racial slurs and other phrases such as “Go back to Mexico!” But the protesters stood their ground.
“The people out here represent the thousands of families who live in the shadows of fear,” said Joel Aguilar, one of about 30 protesters who showed up near Main Street and Alma School Road in Mesa.
The Mesa demonstration was one of many organized by Immigrantes Sin Fronteras, or Immigrants Without Borders, against a new Arizona law that threatens employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants with permanent loss of their business licenses.
Protesters have lined Valley streets daily during a nine-day campaign that will end Saturday.
“We’re trying to play on what’ll happen in January when employers can’t hire undocumented workers,” Aguilar said. “No one will be able to spend money. This is a small scene compared to what’ll happen in January.”
The group has said the larger protest will coincide with the 2008 Super Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
As trucks drove by Wednesday honking their support or yelling their opposition, expectant mother Paulina Martinez, 24, held a sign that read: “I am your future.”
Martinez said she hopes the government will recognize that everyone has a right to succeed and make a life for themselves.
“As a future mother, I have to worry about my children’s future,” she said.
Protest organizer Pedro Sanchez said the rallies have drawn a couple hundred people each day. Through leaflet distribution, meetings and radio announcements, he said Immigrants Without Borders hopes to have at least 150 protest demonstrations throughout the Valley.
Elias Bermudez, leader of the organization, said the goal is to show the importance of Mexican immigrants’ participation in the Arizona economy. Bermudez walked among the protesters Wednesday shaking hands and greeting the people who could be affected by the new law.
By refusing to work or consume products, organizers and demonstrators said they hope to show the importance of their continued stay in Arizona. Bermudez said immigrants have become the base of Arizona’s economy.
He said the escalation of the illegal immigration problem is due to “neglect on behalf of the government,” which has failed to implement and enforce immigration reforms.
“My only regret is that it’s caused the deaths of people who thought they could make it here and get work,” Bermudez said.