Hispanics to march Tuesday over 2 bills
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 1, 2005

25-mile walk from Mesa to Capitol will protest anti-immigrant measures

Yvonne Wingett

Hundreds of Hispanics from around the state plan to walk 25 miles from Mesa to the state Capitol next week to protest proposed legislation that targets undocumented immigrants.

Students, day laborers and community activists who gathered at north Phoenix's Macehualli Work Center, near 25th Street and Bell Road, said they expect more than 300 to participate in Tuesday's Caminata por la Dignidad Humana, or Human Dignity Walk.

They want to protest House Bill 2592, which would prohibit cities, towns and counties from building or maintaining a work center that facilitates the hiring of undocumented immigrants, and House Bill 2030, which would ban undocumented immigrants from living in public housing, taking adult literacy courses and enrolling in college, among other services.

Both bills have passed the House and are under consideration in the Senate.

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said he supports both measures and thinks the protests will have little impact on the bills.

"The laws they're protesting only impact illegal (immigrants)," Pearce said. "They're protesting the enforcement of laws."

The activists who plan to march are also angry about legislation calling for a vote that could ban Spanish and any language other than English from local and state government business.

"I have a life here," said Phoenix College student Juliana Huicochea, 19, who said HB 2030 could prevent her from earning a law degree. She would not discuss her immigration status.

"I have an education because of this country," Huicochea said. "We want to give back to the country that has given us so much."

Salvador Reza, who runs the daily operations of the work center, plans to organize an economic boycott if the proposals become law. He said he will urge businesses to boycott Arizona and book their events elsewhere. Reza already is working with California-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network to arrange the effort.

"We'll put pressure on the Legislature," Reza said. "It cannot be business as usual if they keep passing laws that are damaging the infrastructure of Arizona."

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-4712 or yvonne.wingett@arizonarepublic.com.