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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “100,000 turn out to march on Phoenix streets”

    Migrant proposals draw ire across state

    PHOENIX – Standing shoulder to shoulder as they lined the streets of downtown Phoenix, more than 100,000 people demonstrated at the state Capitol against federal legislation that would instantly make 11 million people felons.

    Wearing white T-shirts, waving American flags and chanting “”si, se puede”” (yes we can), the crowd marched for three hours from Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum to the state Capitol.

    “”The National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice”” march in Phoenix was one of 130 planned marches across the nation to protest HR 4437 which would criminalize an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S., outlaw any form of assistance to illegal immigrants and would build a 700-mile-long wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    At the Capitol, the crowd was addressed by the two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation, U.S. Reps. Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva. The two Democrats were joined on a stage by eight other state lawmakers, all Democrats.

    The Democrats told the mostly Hispanic crowd not to let the momentum of the movement fade away, urging them to register to vote for the November elections. At the staging area at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, tables were set up to register demonstrators to vote.

    Fifty yards away from the main demonstration at the Capitol, two Republican state lawmakers held a small counter protest.

    Scottsdale Rep. John Allen, spent most of the afternoon holding a handmade sign that read, “”Governor, I will hold them off, you get the Nat’l Guard,”” on one side and “”Washington: No amnesty. Enforce the law. Close the border”” on the other.

    He was joined by Glendale Rep. Jerry Weiers, who held a sign that read, “”Border security isn’t racism. It’s smart.””

    Phoenix police estimate more than 100,000 people attended the peaceful march yesterday, although organizers for the march said the crowd was closer to 200,000 people.

    Jose Cruz, an 18-year-old protester, said the legislation being considered in Washington might lead to the U.S. denying a path of legal immigration to the next Albert Einstein.

    Cruz, who came to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant when he was 4 months old and is now a legal resident, said he could not fathom being sent back to his birthplace, Mexico City.

    “”This is my home,”” Cruz said.

    He said another cousin joined the Marines to become a U.S. citizen, saying his cousin now serves in Iraq.

    Jason Odhner, a protester at the rally, said the current state and federal laws have created a permanent economic underclass. He said that there are laws that punish illegal immigrants for their mere presence but no laws punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants.

    “”We are sending mixed signals,”” Odhner said. “”No reasonable person wants to see us round up senior citizens and 12-year-old kids.””

    Gov. Janet Napolitano released a statement calling on Congress to resolve the issue.

    “”I believe that we must never lose sight of the fact that immigration reform and control of our international borders is, first and foremost, the responsibility of the federal government,”” Napolitano said. “”I am troubled that Congress adjourned for its spring recess without having passed comprehensive and realistic reform legislation that addresses border and interior enforcement and the need for guest workers.””

    A compromise on immigration reform had been reached by the U.S. Senate Thursday, but a refusal by Senate Democrats to hear any amendments to the compromise have stalled it in the Senate.

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