Dallas-area group to join immigration law protests in Arizona

JULIÁN RESÉNDIZ / Al Día

Dallas News

May 13, 2010

More than two dozen North Texas residents are headed for Arizona to join protests against that state's new immigration law.

The trip is organized by the Megamarch Committee, the same group that held a march through downtown Dallas on May 1 to promote an immigration reform bill that would legalize millions of undocumented workers and their families. Committee members said they want to show support and lend expertise to Latino activists in Arizona.

The Arizona law gives police broad powers to check the paperwork of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. Critics say it will lead to racial profiling, while advocates say it's necessary because the federal government has failed to stop illegal immigration.

"We have a responsibility to continue our struggle for justice for everybody, so what threatens our brown brothers and sisters is also a concern for us," said the Rev. Peter Johnson, who was boarding a charter bus in Oak Cliff early Thursday.

The North Texas bus riders, including both immigrants and American-born citizens, were to hook up with immigration-rights activists in El Paso and Las Cruces, N.M. Organizers say they will drive in a caravan to Nogales, Ariz., where a demonstration is scheduled Friday on the international bridge leading into Nogales, Mexico. The group, which says all of its demonstrations will be peaceful, returns Sunday.

"I'm first-generation but the rest of my family is from Mexico, so I want to help them," said Raul Garcia, a Dallas painting contractor who carried a poster of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a revered religious symbol for Mexican Catholics, in a stylized pose reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty.

"We're going over there to open their eyes, to let them know that we're hard-working people just like them and that we deserve to be treated with dignity. The fact is that (immigrants) contribute a lot to our community."

Daniela Sánchez, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of North Texas, said she hopes the national attention being drawn to Arizona will actually foster debate on a national immigration reform bill that includes legalization for undocumented immigrants.

"I do believe we need some kind of immigration reform, but what (Arizona) has done is really unfair," said the Plano resident. "We're living in a society that is more diverse and multicultural than ever before and it's time everyone in government acknowledges that."

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