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Civil rights organizations and LUCHA rally against an Az. Republican “fear bill”—unevidenced claims over immigration

The Republican sponsored Arizona Invasion Act— “homegrown bigotry in the place of policy”—Sen. Flavio Bravo (D)

By Kira Caspers, Northeast Valley News

Protestors rallied outside of the Arizona State Capitol building on March 20 to oppose the Arizona Invasion Act, a pair of house bills that would make illegal immigration a state crime.

The act is comprised of House Bills 2748 and 2821 that would authorize local law enforcement to administer federal immigration law and would allow local judges to decide immigration cases.

Under the act, civil immunity would be provided to law enforcement for damages that could result from actions taken while enforcing this law.

Both bills were sponsored by Republicans in the Senate, Sen. Jane Shamp and Sen. David Gowan, and in the House, Rep. Steve Montenegro and Rep. Joseph Chaplik.Civil rights organizations are calling this act a revival of SB1070, the ‘show me your papers’ law that was struck down in 2014 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Signed into action in 2010, SB1070 was strictest anti-immigration law in the country at the time. 

It forced immigrants to carry documentation with them at all times or face potential arrest if local law enforcement was suspicious of their legal status.

The civil rights organization Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA brought community members together last week to make noise against these bills with speeches and chants such as,  “Here to stay!” and “Sí se puede.”

LUCHA has community organizers located in Phoenix, Tucson, Cochise and Douglas which is where community organizers like Rodolfo Valencia hailed from to attend the protest.

Valencia brought family and friends with him to learn more about these bills, raise awareness and to represent those in his town that do not have a voice to speak out.

“We need more help in our community, since Douglas is a border town,” Valencia said. “We want to make some noise about what’s happening here.”

In the middle of the protest, Sen. Flavio Bravo stepped up to a microphone as he was walking out of the state senate building and spoke to the crowd.

“It is irresponsible to repeat the same mistakes of the past,” Bravo said. “These bills are nothing but homegrown bigotry in the place of policy and is playing into the fear that there is an invasion at our southern border when it’s actually a humanitarian crisis.”

“This is not Texas,” he said in reference to Senate Bill 4, the Texas bill currently blocked by a federal appeals court. Similar to the Invasion Act, SB4 would also make unauthorized immigration a state crime and would warrant punishment of up to six months in jail for a first offense.

These Arizona and Texas bills were made in response to a sharp increase in immigration in recent months. Data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency documented around 190,000 encounters by border patrol with unauthorized people crossing the southwest border in February, up nearly 20% from last year.

Alberto Plentillas, the Central Region Director for the Arizona Students Association, spoke on behalf of the empowerment organization to decry the twin bills.

“We do think this bill is targeting a lot of students, especially the ones that are undocumented. But it also creates an environment of fear for most students.”

He mentioned how the anticipation of these bills passing could cause international students to look elsewhere for their education.

“We’re trying to build community power and we feel like this is just scaring communities away,” Plentillas said.

Both bills were passed by the Senate majority caucus on Tuesday and will move forward in the state senate for further voting.

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