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Saturday Immigration March Expected to Draw Thousands


Friday, January 15, 2010   

PHOENIX - Organizers expect up to 20,000 demonstrators, many from outside Arizona, for Saturday's West Phoenix rally and march for immigrant rights. Marchers will be protesting a federal agreement allowing Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to check the immigration status of those booked into his jails - a policy that Border Action Network director Jennifer Allen says has led to racial profiling and and questionable arrests. She notes that previous demonstrations have led to changes in policy.

"Because of grassroots community pressure put on the Department of Homeland Security, Sheriff Arpaio lost some of his powers to conduct immigration sweeps."

The Phoenix event is one of several nationwide aimed at pressuring the Obama administration to stop arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants for minor offenses. In response to word of the demonstration, Sheriff Arpaio says he plans to put more resources into immigration enforcement.

Allen says the federal agreements, known as 287(g) - from that section of the Immigration and Nationality Act - have resulted in local law enforcement officers arresting Latinos for petty crimes just to check their immigration status.

"Right now, immigrants in Arizona, regardless of their immigration status, live in a state of fear. They have been treated like they're less than human beings. We need to take a stand against Sheriff Arpaio. He needs to be pushed out of office."

Allen says this is a key month in the struggle for immigrant rights, with Sheriff Arpaio the subject of a federal grand jury investigation, the Arizona legislature beginning its session, and the U.S. Senate poised to introduce an immigration reform bill.

"I think that the display that we expect to see on Saturday will hopefully send a loud, strong message to Arpaio, the legislature and the U.S. Congress that we need new policies that can help move the country forward."

Saturday's march to Sheriff Arpaio's outdoor Tent City jail will start with a rally at Falcon Park.

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