Arizona activists take to the streets to protest immigration policy
By Nicholas Riccardi
Los Angeles Times
July 29, 2010
Several hundred demonstrators opposed to Arizona's hard-line stance on illegal immigration marched Thursday to the federal courthouse here, where a judge the previous day had issued a last-minute injunction against most of the state's controversial immigration law.
Three people were arrested in a carefully choreographed act of civil disobedience, when they stepped onto the cordoned-off steps to the building's plaza. Demonstrations are expected to escalate Thursday.
"We live here in a climate of fear," said Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator who joined about 100 people on the two-mile march from the state Capitol at 4:30 a.m and was one of those arrested. "The context of Arizona is foreign to this country. This is basically a nation that's become hostile to its own people."
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A federal judge Wednesday halted implementation of much of the immigration law, known as SB 1070, ruling it unconstitutional. But activists said they had to keep up the pressure on a state that has come to define the national debate over illegal immigration.
SB 1070, which would have taken effect Thursday, declared the state's policy is "attrition through enforcement" -- an attempt to drive out illegal immigrants, who make up about 7% of the population here, through a series of criminal penalties. Even without the law, though, the state has used many tools against illegal immigrants.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was expected to demonstrate one of them later Thursday by launching one of his controversial "sweeps," in which his deputies fan out through immigrant neighborhoods, stopping people for sometimes minor infractions and checking their immigration status...