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Outrage Over Arizona Immigration Law Boils Over in New York

April 30, 2010

NEW YORK - Arizona's new immigration law has become both the butt of late-night comedians' jokes and the flashpoint for a new push for immigration reform.

Hundreds of protesters, including labor representatives, will be marching and rallying in Northeastern cities on Saturday to protest Arizona's tough new immigration law, which gives police broad power to stop people on suspicion of being in the country illegally. They also will call for national immigration reform.

Daniel Dromm, who chairs the New York City Council's Immigration Committee, says his constituents are worried that New York State could pass a similar law.

"I think it's important that elected officials, people in positions of power, come out and speak out against laws like this – which basically, in my opinion, are enacted in an attempt to intimidate people."

Immigrants make up about 12 percent of the nation's population and contribute to 14 percent of the nation's economy, according to David Kallick, senior fellow at New York's Fiscal Policy Institute.

"I think it's very important for people to understand, as we think about immigration reform, that immigrants are a very big part of our overall gross domestic product."

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is organizing many of the rallies across the country. Hector Figueroa, secretary-treasurer of SEIU Local 32BJ, explains that two-thirds of their membership is foreign-born.

"From Latin America, Eastern Europe; we have a large number of Irish members; from Africa, from Asia – from everywhere. We've got 64 different countries in our union. It goes to the core of who we are."

Protestors will gather at Foley Square in Manhattan at 11 a.m. Saturday for a rally, marching to the Immigration Customs Enforcement office on Varick Street for an afternoon vigil. Other rallies and marches are planned in the region in Hartford, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY