This Saturday, as part of a national day of action against SB 1070, more than 150 people from across the RGV gathered at the corner of Raul Longoria and Expressway 83 to lend their voices to the growing demand for humane immigration reform.
Participants lined the sidewalk starting from the Expressway and almost reaching West 1st St, the northern edge of the Shrine of San Juan. Youth, elders, families, students, representatives of organizations and individuals all came out to renounce the racist and immoral SB 1070 and say “Stop criminalizing workers, our families and our communities.”
Participants held signs saying “Do I look suspicious?” and “I am not a criminal,” referring to the increased levels of state-sanctioned racial profiling and criminalization of immigrants ushered in by SB 1070.
Commenting on the importance of the action, McAllen resident and UTPA student Alexis Bay said, “Most Americans feel they have no real voice when it comes to laws or what our government does—at least people my age feel that way—but Saturday people from all over proved that we still have a voice and that we can still organize, we still have the power to change things.”
And change is crucial, not only in Arizona—which is the frontline of a failed federal policy—but nationally and locally. SB 1070 is part of a dangerous national trend of empowering local police to meddle in immigration enforcement. When local law enforcement opts to participate in 287(g) or the Secure Communities program, we are one step closer to a version of SB 1070 in our own communities.
In response to that trend, in the RGV community action has been rising. Saturday’s action builds on momentum created by organizing against police-ICE collaboration, including community delegations organized by LUPE members to local police chiefs’ offices demanding they not participate in 287(g), and last month’s May Day Rally. Additionally, on May 18th, Brownsville’s city commission unanimously passed a strongly worded resolution (opens a PDF file) condemning SB 1070.
Saturday’s action coincided with a 100,000 person march on the capitol of Arizona, organized by human rights groups Puente Movement, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, and dozens of grassroots organizations and individuals from across the state.
March organizers announced the beginning of the Arizona Human Rights Summer, the peaceful escalation of resistance to SB 1070 and building off the legacy of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Organizers also invited the nation to Arizona for the Day of Non-Compliance, July 29th, the day that SB 1070 is scheduled to go into effect.
The RGV action was one of more than 60 similar actions nation-wide held in solidarity with Phoenix’s march and rally.