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May-17-2010 20:00printcomments

Immigration/Human Rights News: The Arizona Prairie Fire Spreads

“It’s dead” -Mexican merchant in Nogales

Arizona sunset

(LAS CRUCES, N.M.) - Like the blazing sparks of a wild prairie fire, the political conflagration set off by Arizona Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), a new law that requires police to demand identification and arrest anyone suspected of being in the state without proper immigration documents, is spreading far into the horizon with far-reaching, unpredictable consequences.

Appearing at an Arizona news conference May 15 with Governor Jan Brewer, former US vice-presidential candidate and Tea Party darling Sarah Palin praised SB 1070 as a needed tool to control illegal immigration and an insecure southern border.

“We are all Arizonans now,” Palin said, before heading off to a New Mexico rally attended by 1,200 people in support of Susana Martinez, a border county district attorney sympathetic to SB 1070 who is seeking the gubernatorial nomination on the Republican ticket.

Yet opposition to SB 1070 is picking up steam not only in the US-Mexico border region, but across the world as growing legions of critics slam the new law for opening the door to racial profiling, police harassment and violations of legal due process.

In Nogales, Sonora, a group of about 40 people staged a weekend protest near a border crossing to the US. In addition to denouncing SB 1070, demonstrators protested difficulties in routine legal crossings to the sister city of Nogales, Arizona. Organizations participating in the protest included Fronteras Desiguales, Border Action, Border Angels and Fronteriza Kino, among others.

Across the border in downtown shopping district of Nogales, early signs of the impact of a boycott against Arizona were visible. Local news reports noted fewer vehicles than normal passing through the US port of entry, perhaps in response to a call to boycott Arizona which had been circulating in Mexico.

“It’s dead,” said one merchant of the weekend shopper flow on the US side. Asking not to be identified, the business owner said protesters should be boycotting Phoenix instead of Nogales, because that’s where the “damn politicians” and their electoral supporters live.

According to the merchant, the original settlement of Nogales relied on trade with Mexico long before Arizona even became a US state. Like other US border communities, Nogales economically benefits from Mexican customers who cross into the US seeking bargains.

Earlier, on May 10, the city council of Nogales, Arizona, passed a resolution against SB 1070 as a “morally repugnant” measure. Council representatives criticized the law for usurping federal immigration authority, violating constitutional guarantees of due process, encouraging racial profiling, endangering public safety, creating a divide between law enforcement and ethnic communities, and placing a new economic burden on local governments suddenly confronted with paying for larger numbers of prisoners.

A member of the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, Nogales Police Chief Jeffrey Kirkham told council members his group was opposed to the new law.“I have concerns as far as people here in the community reporting crime,” Kirkham was quoted in the media.

Nogales joined Tucson and Flagstaff as Arizona cities officially opposed to SB 1070. Nationally, El Paso, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among cities approving one form or another of boycott against official business with Arizona.

In New Mexico, members of the Border Network for Human Rights prepared a May 17 protest against the Las Cruces City Council’s decision to avoid taking action against SB 1070.

“We hope that they reconsider, and we urge them to take a stand on this issue,” said Louie Gilot, communications director for the Border Network.

Despite supporters’ assurances, Gilot said the Arizona law reeked of racism in the practical way it will be enforced.

“I’m an immigrant from France and you put me next to a Hispanic and you don’t know who the immigrant is,” Gilot said, adding she was confident the law eventually would be overturned in the courts.

“Hopefully, it’s not going to spread to New Mexico or Texas,” Gilot told Frontera NorteSur.

Leading up to the Nogales protests, dubbed “A Day without a Mexican,” the Sonora State Legislature unanimously passed a resolution exhorting the Calderon administration to analyze using international law as a mechanism to blunt the Arizona legislation.

Sonora lawmaker Damian Zepeda Vidales, said Mexico’s federal government should examine taking the Arizona controversy to the United Nations Human Rights Commission or the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Carefully worded, the Sonora resolution recognized Arizona’s sovereignty but upheld the “participation and co-responsibility” of nations with regards to international and Inter-American human rights treaties.

Separately, Mexican Chancellor Patricia Espinosa confirmed the Calderon administration would file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of US lawsuits against SB 1070, and contemplate pursuing the case in international legal institutions.

SB 1070 is likely to be a topic of discussion between President Calderon and President Obama when the two leaders meet in Washington this week.

With each passing day, SB 1070 is becoming a hotter and hotter wire electrifying cultural discourse in the Americas and beyond. A US-based musician, Eugene Rodriguez, has already written a corrido, or popular ballad, against SB 1070 titled “State of Shame.”

As many as 85,000 youths jammed Mexico City’s Zocalo square for a May 16 concert, "We are all Arizona,” which was headlined by Mexican, Cuban and Chilean musicians opposed to the Arizona law.

Prominent acts included Jaguares, Maldita Vecindad and Molotov, the incendiary group whose earlier hit “Frijolero” tackled US racism against Mexicans.

“This performance is dedicated to our brothers who are suffering because of discrimination in Arizona,” said Roco, lead signer of the legendary Mexican rock band Maldita Vecindad.

“This is for all the Mexicans and Latinos who’ve had to go to the other side in search of a better place to live.”

In cyberspace, a new Facebook page called “1 Million AGAINST the Arizona Immigration Law SB 1070,” claims more than 1.5 million members. Reportedly, followers come from Mexico, Russia, the United States, Poland, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Chile, and Germany.

Underlining multiple comments on the page, many contributors contend the United States would be “nothing” without the sweat and toil of Mexican workers.

While organizers of anti-SB 1070 actions debate the scope and depth of the Arizona boycott, the issue has taken a life of its own on the Internet. Some posters urge an expanded boycott to include all US businesses in Mexico, or a boycott of the Los Angeles Lakers because of Coach Phil Jackson’s comments in support of the Arizona law.

Pro-SB 1070 forces, meanwhile, urge people to spend money visiting the Grand Canyon and Arizona this summer.

To counter the anti-SB 1070 campaign, the reelection campaign of Governor Jan Brewer has practically covered the home page of its website with a large box urging readers to sign a petition in support of “Securing Arizona’s Border.”


Source: Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico Additional sources:

  •, May 16, 2010. La Jornada, May 12, 16 and 17, 2010. Articles by Tania Molina Ramirez and Notimex.
  • El Universal/Notimex/EFE, May 6, 11 and 16, 2010. Articles by Justino Miranda and Marcelo Beyliss.
  • Nuevo Dia (Nogales), May 16, 2010.
  • Arizona Star/Associated Press, May 16, 2010. Article by Jonathan J. Cooper.
  •, May 16, 2010. El Imparcial (Hermosillo), May 15, 2010. Article by Ruben A. Ruiz., May 14, 2010.
  • Nogales International, May 11, 14 and 15, 2010. Articles by Jonathan Clark, Denise Holley and Manuel C. Coppola.
  • Proceso/Apro, May 6, 2010.

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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May 22, 2010 6:01 am (Pacific time)

Hey, since mexicians think open borders are so good, maybe USA should open borders to all of world I'm sure there are people willing to come in and work cheaper than mexicians, and do the jobs mexicians won't...

Douglas Benson May 19, 2010 6:08 am (Pacific time)

I cant help it I have to say one more thing . This is about cheap allmost slave labor . Imagine that you got laid off youre boss says sorry we can no longer keep you . You are sad to lose a living wage job health care ect but hey you were looking for a job when you found this one and thats the game. The next day you go back to pick up something you left behind and what do you see ? A bunch of hispanic workers .Now you are getting a little angry so you ask one of them whats going on and all he says is "no english " and the next one and the next one [you get the picture]. So now you are hot as hell so you confront the boss . "well Im sorry but these guys work for half the wage and I dont have to pay any benifits either ,my profit margin is way up and thats what I care about first .I am going to have to ask you to leave now sorry."

May 18, 2010 12:52 pm (Pacific time)

Arizona passes law banning multilingual requirement for businesses  American Thinker ^ | May 18, 2010 | Ethel C. Fenig Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 9:46:33 AM by conservativegramma Arizona did it again! Fresh from signing a law that reinforces a federal law giving police the right to ask a person stopped by police for an unrelated matter to produce papers proving the right to be legally in the US, followed by a law banning schools from teaching minority/ethnic studies courses advocating separatism, group superiority and subversion of this country, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) signed legislation affirming that nothing in state law requires businesses to provide "trained and competent" interpreters when a customer comes in speaking a language other than English. Assistant Attorney General Michael Walker said that has probably always been the law.

Anonymous May 18, 2010 6:23 pm (Pacific time)

The spat over Arizona's new immigration expanded Tuesday as a state official dared the city of Los Angeles to follow through on its new boycott by agreeing to give up the 25 percent of electricity that city gets from Arizona sources. In a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigos, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce said a boycott war is bad for both sides, and said he would "be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements" to end the electricity flowing to Los Angeles. "I am confident that Arizona's utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands," Mr. Peirce said. "If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona's economy." Arizona also has over 4,000 California criminals in their correction system that could be returned. Then there are the many different offices that Arizona businesses set up all over California that could be closed or reduced in a wide variety of employment positions. Frankly this is really about coming down on Arizona to try to stop other states and smaller political units from passing the same laws or something similar. Bottom line, the people who don't like this are people who really do not recognize America as a seperate and soverign nation. These laws on the books will be enforced and if and when people act out in a more aggresive fashion to stop that enforcement action, they might not like the blowback. Considering that well over 70% of Americans what this action, that computes out to well over 200 million people. So if just 1% start hitting the streets to protest non-enforcement, that's over 2 million. The time has come, in the name of National Security to enforce the laws and come down heavy on employers so our citizens can get some jobs back, especially in the trades.

Editor: I think that is pretty sad for a nation comprised of immigrants, but whatever you think.  I talk to a lot of people in Arizona who think it is terrible.

Arabella May 18, 2010 5:57 pm (Pacific time)

Brewer and Palin both say the problem is "a border crisis", not "an immigration crisis", yet the new AZ SB1070 does ZERO about the border. Governor Brewer has even agreed that it has "nothing to do with securing the border"! Don't ask. She's right. It has NOTHING to do with securing the border, immigration reform or crime-fighting, it is a one-dimensional permission slip for AZ police to apprehend any 'brown-skinned' people, if there is "reasonable suspicion" they might be illegal or performing a traffic violation, so they can check ID's and find illegal aliens to be fined, imprisoned and deported. It doesn't define "reasonable suspicion".... Hypocritically, this law punishes people who "harbor, hide or transport" aliens with fines and imprisonment, but not employers of aliens....they get off with probation; presumably a GOP concession to pro-biz special interests. Nor does the law address penalties for violating fed and state employment tax laws The Az bill was written by a racist "birther" lawyer associated with FAIR, Federation for American Immigration Reform, which has ties to white supremacist groups - may explain why it's a simplistic witch hunt that doesn't even try to attempt securing the border. On the contrary, on April 29 the Democrats filed a draft of a comprehensive immigration reform bill which contains strategies to secure the border, fight crime, reform immigration and punish those who promote illegal immigration, including employers. It's modeled on McCain-Kennedy bill that passed a GOP-led Senate with 63 Republican votes in 2006 (but in 2006 the GOP wasn't using legislation obstructionism as a way to try defeat an incumbent brown-skinned Democratic president. Current Republicans (including 11 Senators who voted for it in 2006) refuse to discuss the Democrats bill now and say immigration reform must wait. Yet Palin screamed at Obama, NOT her GOP colleagues, "Do your job, Secure the Border". Go figure.

Anonymous 1 May 18, 2010 12:28 pm (Pacific time)

The "cities boycotting Arizona" don't have to live IN Arizona.

Douglas Benson May 18, 2010 9:30 am (Pacific time)

There are millions more of us that are directly impacted by these criminals that want an end to our goverment turning a blind eye to the hordes of illegals in this country due to the economic and politcal pressure . While even I will agree that this bill goes too far only because it gives law enforcement the ability to question immigration status. There is allready a law against ID theft[or using fake ID for social services its called fraud ] false info to law enforcement,getting ID that is not in your name is ID theft regardless if it is used to comit a crime and anyone suspected of such should be held for ID confirmation regardless of skin color. True that means more likely than not it will be mostly illegal immigrants but once again if most of the criminals arent white that doesnt denote racism . I could bring you a line that never ends of workers ,contractors,material supliers ,unemployed workers that cant get a job because there are so many of these cheap workers to compete with that want something done . I dont know how many contractors I talk to that have to compete with these criminals .They put in bids and here comes the builder ,homeowner ect. to say sorry we are going with julio his bid was much lower . Sure they are low wages [sometimes not even minimum wage if its piece rate],no taxes ,no workmans comp ,no un-employment, rack up the material bills and skip out ect.ect. I challenge you sir to call a few legit contractors and see how they feel about our illegal immigrants . The worst part is as the buyer you get very little if any break when they use these guys because the genral contractor pockets those savings as profit . We need to make hiring or hiring contractors that use illegals a felony crime first time out . Here is my take as selfish as it may be. When I see these criminals working and I cant get a legit job in my field and these folks are breaking the law to take it I want them gone.If it comes down to them or me guess what its me . When things were good we got lazy ,there was plenty to go around .Now the cheap illegal labor rules and the legit workers and contractors must either break the rules ,work under the table,use illegal labor ect.ect. to survive or starve.

Anonymous May 18, 2010 8:50 am (Pacific time)

To compare the American citizens concern over having our immigration laws enforced with other issues such as our conflicts with Iraq, WMD's, or any other non-domestic issue certainly misreads how the majority of our citizens view this illegal immigration disaster. Most people have direct experiences with illegal immigrants, so these opinions are based on actual experience, not some report one sees in the media. The internals of these polls includes all ages, all races/ethnicities that show that this is just not white America that want these immigration laws enforced. Those who advocate boycotts and lawsuits are a distinct minority and completely out of connection with the majority of the people. I'm curious about the statement by the editor that Mexico is in America? Do you mean the United States, or North America, the continent? Needless to say we are both soverign and have our own distinct immigration laws. Mexico comes down really hard on illegals, as we should. The Arizona law on immigration is just a mirrored copy of federal law. With the huge illegal population coupled with such a high unemployment rate, our Federal governments failure to enforce our laws is putting all our citizens in jeopardy, as well as the illegals. Time will eventually make that clear even to the most ardent open-border people who most likely have an unrealistic appraisal of this situation...or maybe some have another egreigous agenda?

Jameson May 18, 2010 8:18 am (Pacific time)

At a time when the Supreme Court and many politicians seek to bring American law in line with foreign legal norms, it's noteworthy that nobody has argued that the U.S. look at how Mexico deals with immigration and what it might teach us about how best to solve our illegal immigration problem. Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:in the country legally; have the means to sustain themselves economically; not destined to be burdens on society; of economic and social benefit to society; of good character and have no criminal records; and contributors to the general well-being of the nation. The law also ensures that:immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor; foreign visitors do not violate their visa status; foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country's internal politics; foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported; foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported; those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.Who could disagree with such a law? It makes perfect sense. The Mexican constitution strictly defines the rights of citizens -- and the denial of many fundamental rights to non-citizens, illegal and illegal. Under the constitution, the Ley General de Poblacion, or General Law on Population, spells out specifically the country's immigration policy.

Ben May 18, 2010 4:24 am (Pacific time)

The bottom line is that it is racism. White people are ok with it, but they are not going to be a target with this law. They live in a bubble in their protected enviroment and have simple equations Mexican=criminal=illegal. Jim crow was a very popular law!!

caroline May 18, 2010 2:40 am (Pacific time)

And by the way, I am a Arizona native.

caroline May 18, 2010 2:37 am (Pacific time)

Ummm Editor?? Ask yourself why the "proud hispanic people" keep illegally jumping our borders? Im not afraid of immigrants,im afraid of illegal immigrants. And, im tired of paying for them. Mexico gets treated like garbage because they cant even stand together and take control of their own country, they want to bring their garbage here. How about we implement the Mexican immigration laws here in the US? Talk about a bunch of flippin hypocrits...

Tom May 18, 2010 12:00 am (Pacific time)

59% of the country is behind Arizona and the law and only 32% in favor. "Fully 73% say they approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them. Two-thirds (67%) approve of allowing police to detain anyone who cannot verify their legal status, while 62% approve of allowing police to question people they think may be in the country illegally" I think it's time the majority show some muscle for a change. Mexico needs us much more then we need them. Boycott Mexico and it's goods. See how they like their own medicine.

Editor Oh please, they're the same sheep that believed Bush won an election, and that Iraq had WMD's.  They think Israel is an innocent country trying to "defend itself" as it slaughters children like monsters, and that torture is "OK" if it is necessary.  American credibility=zero.  Only the people of America stand above that, and obviously not all of them.  Quivering little babies lashing out in fear of people with darker skin than their own, it is ridiculous!  Life is damned short, I suspect God is extremely disappointed almost always.  Regarding what people believe, you put it on TV and Americans believe it, no rocket science there.  What the hell does American opinion mean anyway? 

And how is this poll reflected? 

In the increasing number of cities boycotting Arizona?  This country has treated Mexico like garbage, Viva la Mexico and the proud Hispanic people of America.  Mexico is in America by the way there Tom.  Try to lose the fear, you can try to understand the real facts behind this story if you desire to. 

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