Our VoiceImmigrationNews & Politics

Chicago United Against Arizona’s Anti-immigrant Law

Cloee Cooper • Apr 29, 2010

det_cnt_protest_1Chicago stands strong with activists across the nation to Repeal Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070. Monday night local Chicago activists organized an all night vigil and civil disobedience in response to the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant legislation.

About 300 community activists and faith based leaders gathered at the Broadview Detention center at 7pm on April 26. The purpose of the vigil was to stand in solidarity with the detainees that get taken from the deportation center daily and deported to their country of origin. It was also to protest the recent passage of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona (see students chaining themselves to the Arizona state Capitol in demonstration against the bill here), which mandates all city, town and state agencies and officers to enforce federal immigration law. The law forces all local law enforcement to stop anyone in the road “if” there is reasonable suspicion that they are undocumented. The law endorses racial profiling.

At 6:30 am, ministers, rabbis and faith based leaders joined the all night vigil. The crowd was chanting “power to the people, no human is illegal” and “stop deportations”. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attempted to depart from the deportation center at 7am, 24 faith based leaders and community members held locked arms in front of the ICE vehicle. The crowd continued to chant “The people united, will never be divided”. Those participating in the civil disobedience blocked the ICE vehicle from transporting the detainees to O’Hare airport where they would be sent to their country of origin. All 24 rabbis, ministers, priests, mothers and students were arrested one by one. A black rabbi sat in the front. As he was brought away by law enforcement, he held his fist high in the air.

Organized by the Immigrant Youth Justice League and the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition, the vigil was a powerful statement from the interfaith community and the youth of Chicago. It was a call to put a halt to injustice.

The civil disobedience in Chicago was a testament to a growing sense that anti-immigrant legislation threatens our humanity. The recent bill(s) in Arizona call upon communities to become snitches. It asks residents to report undocumented people to the police. It forces police to stop someone who “looks like an illegal immigrant”. The US has not seen such laws endorsed in this country since segregation.

Here is a short video of the ICE van turning back after confronting the protesters:

It is great to see that Chicago’s action made national news. By Tuesday afternoon, the action was broadcast across the nation. The Washington Post, LA Times, ABC, the Chicago Tribune and local newspapers and blogs like Youth Immigrant Justice League and Chicanasima documented the civil disobedience.

In the face of harsh anti-immigrant bills, it is uplifting to witness community leaders of different faiths and backgrounds standing together for justice. Among those arrested was Miguel Gutierrez of the Immigrant Youth Justice league. He writes in his blog, “In solidarity with undocumented immigrants, we utilize our privilege to risk arrest and other legal ramifications, in a call for social justice”.

The Chicago immigrant rights community made its statement loud and clear. Chicago will stand in opposition along with communities across the nation until Arizona’s SB 1070 and the anti-immigrant agenda it reflects, is repealed.

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