Arizona’s Puente Organizes Barrio Committees in Response to SB 1070, Asks for ‘True Solidarity’ in Coming Days
With defiant Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer growing more emboldened as the Supreme Court readies to unveil its ruling on the state’s SB 1070 “papers, please” immigration law, Arizona human rights group Puente and their national allies are bolstering their “Barrio Defense Committees,” as “neighbors link with neighbors to learn their rights and make collective plans to defend themselves.”
They are also asking their fellow Arizona neighbors and politicians to take a stand.
“Within Arizona we’re ready to pose the question to every individual and institution, police department and school district, what side are you on?” Puente executive director Carlos Garcia wrote in an email. “SB 1070 can only function if individuals allow undocumented people to be singled out, if school districts allow their security guards to double as immigration agents, if businesses refuse to offer us safe haven, and ultimately if Obama’s administration agrees to deport whoever Arpaio turns over to ICE.”
Case in point: As President Obama announced his new policy for certain undocumented youth last week, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio ramped up his anti-immigrant dragnets and snared an unaccompanied and undocumented 6-year-old girl who quite possibly lost her parents on the dangerous journey from El Salvador to the United States.
“For migrants in Arizona, our work has turned towards building power for and amongst ourselves,” Garcia noted in an interview. “We went to Congress for reform and were treated like a political football. We asked the president for relief and instead got record deportations. Now even the courts may give SB 1070 the greenlight. It’s time we realize we have only each other and instead of appealing to the powers-that-be, start organizing deeper in our community so that our goals are unshakable demands instead of requests.”
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