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Protests planned ahead of Arizona's controversial immigration law

By Jim Roope, CNN Radio
Demonstrators take part in a recent immigration rally in Phoenix, Arizona. More protests are expected this week.
Demonstrators take part in a recent immigration rally in Phoenix, Arizona. More protests are expected this week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law takes effect Thursday
  • Many demonstrations are planned to protest the law
  • Those include a group of union members, students and religious leaders from Los Angeles
  • There are at least three court challenges to the law

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- Days before Arizona's controversial law targeting illegal immigration takes effect, demonstrators are finalizing their plans to descend upon the state capital to show their support for or opposition to the measure.

The protests will include busloads of labor union members from Los Angeles who oppose Senate Bill 1070 because they believe it promotes racial profiling,

They plan to dare law enforcement in Phoenix, Arizona, to put SB 1070 to the test, according to Maria Elena Durazo, one of the organizers of the rally.

"We will not be carrying 'papers,' " said Durazo, of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. "We will let them know we are coming, and we will tell them: Arrest us for being brown or black, arrest us for being suspicious."

The protesters include immigrant students, religious leaders, day laborers and members of several unions including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the Teamsters and the Utility Workers of America Union.

But not all Latinos oppose Arizona's law, which takes effect Thursday.

Poll: One in four Americans angry over illegal immigration

Jesse Hernandez is a member of the Arizona Republican Latino Association, a group that supports SB 1070 and opposes the U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit challenging it.

Hernandez said Arizona's law does nothing more than federal law already allows. He believes Durazo and her "left-wing" supporters are simply misinformed.

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"They throw out this verbiage, racist, discrimination, Nazis -- they're just trying to drum up fear among the public," Hernandez said. "We live in a society that doesn't read anymore, that is spoon-fed by TV. That's why I'm challenging them to pick up the law and read it and not believe the rhetoric that is coming out from the left."

iReport: Tell us what you think

Section 2 of SB 1070 states that law enforcement cannot stop a person for the sole purpose of determining immigration status. An officer can inquire about immigration status only if a person is stopped or detained on suspicion of another crime, and if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is in the U.S. illegally.

Many, like Hernandez, believe that section guards against racial profiling.

Read what others think about immigration reform

But immigrant rights activist Angelica Salas dismisses that, citing the aggressive and controversial immigration enforcement by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"We're telling you about what we know, we've seen it over and over again," said Salas, who represents the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

"Don't tell us what's true and what's not when we know what we have seen and the consequence of racial profiling in Maricopa County for years," she said.

"And what Sheriff Joe is doing is now sanctioned by the state of Arizona."

Arpaio -- who calls himself "America's toughest sheriff" -- has ignited controversy for his sweeps of illegal immigrants using a federal program called 287(g) that allows local law enforcement to be cross-trained by the Department of Homeland Security and work in immigration enforcement.

Salas will be heading to Phoenix along with Durazo and the other busloads of protesters this week.

There have been three court hearings to consider challenges to the Arizona law, including one from the Department of Justice. To date, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has yet to rule on the law's fate.

Read more about the court challenges

Durazo said that even if there is an injunction, they will still go. She says the fight will continue until the law is repealed.

 
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