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Statement on Arizona’s SB 1070

Dignity Campaign Participants Condemn SB 1070 and Immigration Enforcement Actions in Areas Around the Country

Organizations participating in the Dignity Campaign to win immigration reform based on human and labor rights are in solidarity with organizations around the country today to condemn SB 1070 in Arizona.

While parts of the Arizona law were thankfully blocked by Federal Judge Susan Bolton yesterday, most notably the mandate for police and other enforcement authorities to check the status of people they suspect might not have legal status; other parts of 1070 continue to move forward. More importantly, the use of immigration enforcement to criminalize immigrants, especially the undocumented, remains unchallenged in Judge Bolton’s decision.

One of the reasons why organizations have come together in the Dignity Campaign is to oppose the criminalization of immigrants and enforcement strategies — like 287g (which is at the heart of SB 1070), e-verify, and national ID cards. These are contained in immigration reform proposals from Senator Schumer and Congressman Gutierrez. Should their enforcement proposals pass these enforcement programs will become the law for all 50 states. We have to rid immigration reform proposals of all border and interior enforcement programs, and focus on legalization and family reunification and dealing with the true causes of migration. The real solution to the forced migration of people is changing our trade and foreign policies that cause massive dislocation of people (e.g. NAFTA).

Dignity Campaign particpants are active in a series of events to protest SB 1070 and ‘Secure Communities’ while calling for a different direction. Some of those events include:

  • LOS ANGELES, CA: Monday July 26th banner drops every morning and an action July 29th (South Asian Network – As part of the Todos Somos Arizona, May 6tth Collective)
  • FRESNO, CA: Tuesday, July 27th Press Conference to protest enforcement policies and to present their immigration reform document as part of the Dignity Campaign. (FIOB – Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binacionales, U.S./Mexico)
  • OAKLAND, CA: July 29th, 12:00pm Teatro popular and Speak out @ Federal Building 1301 Clay St and 3:00pm Rally and Cultural Performances Fruitvale BART Plaza @ Int’l Blvd (Mujeres Unidas y Activas and Filipino Advocates for Justice)
  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA: July 29th, 11am Press Conference and Rally at Attn General Jerry Brown’s Office, 455 Golden Gate Ave and 5:30pm Rally and March @ 24th & Mission BART station (San Francisco Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective and La Raza Centro Legal)
  • BELLINGHAM, WA: Community dialogues about immigration reform and the need to fight anti-immigrant actions locally and in Arizona.
  • JACKSON, MI: July 29th, The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, is holding a protest inside the state capitol in Jackson, in front of a statue of former Senator Theodore Bilbo. Bilbo was a leader of the Dixiecrats in Congress and notorious for advocating for the beating and lynching of African-Americans who demanded voting and civil rights, as well as hatred towards Jews, immigrants, Catholics and all progressive people.

Today in Jackson, a church choir will sing “Listen Mr. Bilbo,” written by Bob and Adrienne Claiborne in 1946 and popularized by Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers. The song begins with the verse:

Listen, Mr. Bilbo, listen to me
I’ll give you a lesson in history.
Listen and I’ll show you that the foreigners you hate
Are the very same people made America great.

Below is the statement by MIRA executive director Bill Chandler at today’s protest in Jackson:

MIRA NEWS STATEMENT, July 29, 2010

Tel: 601-968-5182

Today we stand in solidarity with the immigrants and people of color in Arizona. Parts of its anti-immigrant law has gone into effect today. We welcome the preliminary injunction that was issued yesterday by a federal judge halting some of the worst provisions. However, other onerous provisions are now in effect.

We join in support of the boycott of Arizona. We say “Mississippi Si! Arizona No!” But will we be able to continue to say Mississippi Si?

Theodore Gilmore Bilbo was a vulgar, vicious, white supremacist. Bilbo used hate, xenophobia and racism to fertilize his political career during the first half of the twentieth century. Bilbo used the full force of his power to wage a war on people of color. His rhetoric contributed to the violence, torture, and murders of African Americans, along with many immigrants of the time.

This defiant statue stood under the rotunda of this capitol building during the struggle for Civil Rights. Pressure from African American’s rising political influence in the 1980’s moved this symbol of racism into the shadows of this House Judiciary Committee meeting room.

Did this move symbolize Mississippi moving away from overt racism?

Are Lt. Governor Phil Bryant and others moving from behind the dark shadows of what Theodore Gilmore Bilbo represents? Are their rants against immigrants– Latinos in particular– unleashing the simmering racism hidden behind smiling faces of some of our people? Are they not following in the footsteps of Bilbo? Is not trying to bring this xenophobic and racist Arizona law into Mississippi playing the Bilbo Card? Is it not their stated intent to intimidate and drive immigrants out of our state, just as their ancestors intent was to intimidate, terrorize, and drive out African Americans in the last century? And enforce inequality on those left behind?

Will their rhetoric give license to attacks on vulnerable immigrants? We hope not.

We say shame– shame on the politicians of both parties who pander to racism to further their careers.

We will educate, organize and mobilize to fight for the basic human rights of all people. No human being is illegal!

—-Bill Chandler, Executive Director, MIRA! Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance

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