Sun Principe is Social Justice Director for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix and AZ Immigration Ministry. Carlos Garcia is Lead Organizer at Puente Arizona.
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Friday, February 25, 2011. You can sign up for these emails here.
|Salvador Reza and Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray|
On Tuesday, February 22, Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, who is well-known for his mean-spirited and inhumane approach to immigration, went one step further in his attempts to squash human rights. Senator Pearce decided that cheering and clapping from a group of immigrant-rights supporters in a hearing overflow room was a threat to Senate “decorum.” In response, he instructed the police that the community members should “be identified, photographed, and… that these offenders be denied further entrance into the Senate.”
One of the community organizers was Salvador Reza, leader of Puente Arizona and partner of the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. Sal is deeply committed to ensuring that our laws respect the inherent worth and dignity of immigrants and migrant workers.
When Sal returned to the Senate building for a scheduled meeting with a legislator, he was told by the police that he was no longer allowed inside. When Sal asked to see something in writing banning him from the building, he was arrested and booked on charges of trespass.
Just imagine it: Sal was arrested by police because a political leader who disagreed with him told the police to keep people like him out.
Is this what’s to come in Arizona? In the United States, we can’t let any political leader use police force to silence dissent.
Tell Governor Jan Brewer that arresting people is the wrong way to deal with political debate. Ask her to condemn and reverse the actions of Senator Russell Pearce — and allow everyone to participate in the public debate about issues that affect their lives.
Tensions are running high in Arizona. The Senate is considering more anti-immigrant legislation, including bills that would:
- Chop up the 14th Amendment to deny citizenship to children born in Arizona to undocumented mothers;
- Require hospitals to check every patient’s citizenship status, turning doctors and nurses into the immigration police;
- Deny education to undocumented children by requiring proof of citizenship to enroll in any public or private school;
- Criminalize driving by undocumented immigrants, and evict them from public housing.
Senate President Russell Pearce, coauthor of SB 1070, is one of the main proponents of these draconian and inhumane proposals – and he’s the one pushing the police to keep people who disagree with him away from the Senate.
It’s the job of the police at the Arizona legislature to keep those public buildings safe – and it’s right that they have the ability to remove individuals who present a danger to the public and our elected officials. But Sal and these community members are peaceful organizers. They are committed and caring individuals who are standing up for the rights of all and participating in the public debate about critical issues.