Harsh Immigration Law Fosters Vibrant Protest Movement

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It’s been less than two weeks since Arizona passed what can only be described as its racial-profiling bill. Since then, a number of immigrant and civil rights advocacy groups, as well as creative individuals, are coming up with innovative ways to protest the new law.

I like to think of it as the silver lining to an otherwise depressing descent by our fellow border state into xenophobia-land. For every state like Arizona that passes a mean spirited and punitive immigration law, there will be an equally forceful and creative resistance against this type of backward thinking.

One of my favorites is the number of Arizona drivers who are painting “Pull me over I’m Mexican” on the rear windows of their cars. Hundreds of pics have been circulating on Twitter.

El Paso has been especially active in protesting AZ’s new law. Yesterday, the city council passed a resolution barring city employees from attending conferences, conventions and other work related meetings in Arizona. El Paso county also passed a similar resolution. And in an especially bold move, at least 30 members of El Paso’s Border Network for Human Rights, plan to handcuff themselves and turn themselves in today at the county jail in downtown El Paso.

“Admittedly, it’s a bit shocking, but we hope to make a point about the law,” Louie Gilot, the group’s policy director told me. SB 1070 means anyone who “looks like an undocumented immigrant” can be asked for his or her papers by the police, she says.

Gilot said some of the people participating in today’s protest have U.S. citizenship, while others do not.

In Arizona, the basketball team the Phoenix Suns will wear jerseys that read “Los Suns” tonight, in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Spurs. Of course this begs the question – why not go all the way and write “Los Soles?” Nevertheless, it’s still awesome.  It’s rare for a professional sports team to plunge itself into a politically charged debate.

Team owner Robert Sarver, who was born and raised in Tucson, told the AP yesterday, that the team wanted “to honor our Latino community and the diversity of our league, the state of Arizona, and our nation.

“However intended, the result of passing the law is that our basic principles of equal rights and protection under the law are being called into question,” he said, “and Arizona’s already struggling economy will suffer even further setbacks at a time when the state can ill-afford them.”

Sarver sounds positively statesman-like in comparison to Arizona’s real legislators.

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.