This week in Phoenix a federal judge is hearing arguments from immigrant and civil rights groups, the Department of Justice and the State of Arizona over whether or not SB 1070 should be implemented on July 29. SB 1070 makes it a state crime to be undocumented and authorizes law enforcement to pull over and question any person they have a "reasonable suspicion" to believe doesn’t have papers.
The law has sparked mass protests across the country and a boycott that has reportedly already cost the Phoenix metro area $10 million in lost revenue. Within a week, several lawsuits were filed challenging the law’s constitutionality, the seventh was filed on July 6 by the Department of Justice.
While attorneys battle it out in the courtroom, organizers in Arizona are ready to bring the fight to the streets. And by all accounts, they’ve already arrived. More than a hundred people gathered outside the Sandra Day O’Connor courthouse today, and we heard word from Sarahi Uribe, an organizer with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, that civil disobedience outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix today resulted in seven arrests. Organizers are calling on people to flood the state July 29 to take part in a statewide action, and the state is abuzz with activity as people brace for the law to either go into effect or be temporarily stayed by Judge Susan Bolton.
The immigrant rights non-profit Puente is well into its month-long program of actions to raise awareness and organize Arizona residents around SB 1070. The group called it "30 Days, 30 Events for Human Rights." Starting July 23, groups working under the coalition banner of Alto! Arizona are kicking off a week of actions through July 29. Every day until then, when SB 1070 is slated to go into effect, there will be some kind of action: know your rights trainings, film screenings, prayer vigils.
The Tucson-based Border Action Network is also planning a full calendar of actions through next week. The group is holding two information sessions, one in Tucson tomorrow evening and another on Saturday morning in Douglas at 10am. Next Tuesday, the group is kicking off its own community education campaign. They will turn the lights on at a new site, ban1070.com, which will have information for people to report police abuses. The Border Action Network will also be setting up a hotline for people to report their interactions with police. They’re joining other Arizona organizations to engage in voter mobilization and community education since the fight over SB 1070 will continue long into the next election cycle and groups are trying to prepare for that now.
The night before SB 1070 is slated to go into effect there will be nightlong vigils in both Phoenix and Tucson. The Tucson vigil will be held at Presidio Park, starting at 11:30pm and lasting through the morning. The Catholic group Pax Christi-Phoenix is planning a 6:30 pm vigil on the State Capitol grounds the night of the 28th as well.
The actions will culminate in a July 29 action, when thousands are expected to gather at 6am in Phoenix at the Trinity Cathedral on 100 W. Roosevelt Street for a service before marching to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s offices in downtown Phoenix at 8am.
Groups like the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Puente and Somos America are planning a statewide day of civil disobedience, urging people to leave work and stay away from stores, to fill the streets with a unified voice against SB 1070 and anti-immigrant policy like Secure Communities and 287(g) agreements that are already in place all around the country.
"In Maricopa County, we’ve been living under SB 1070 conditions without the law in effect," said Carlos Garcia of Puente. "The Judge’s decision will not stop the rampant racial profiling, extreme terror, inhumane detention, and persecution lived under Sheriff Arpaio and others like him who abuse ther power under the guise of ‘immigration enforcement.’"
The other part of the strategy to fight SB 1070 will urge people not to comply with SB 1070.
While immigrant rights groups wait on a ruling from Judge Bolton about whether or not the law will go into effect, they are preparing locals, especially citizens, to not comply with SB 1070. The groups will ask people not to carry their ID’s when they are out and about, and record their interactions with the police. The Alto!Arizona website urges people: "Don’t work! Don’t buy! Don’t comply!"
"We call on people of conscience to join us on July 29th, the day 1070 is to go into effect, for a rally and civil disobedience," said former state senator Alfredo Gutierrez who now works with Somos America. "On July 29, we will not comply with unjust laws."
If you are headed to Arizona, Alto! Arizona is taking sign-ups for people who need lodging in the area.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Border Action Network will be involved in a non-compliance strategy should SB 1070 go into effect. However, they are not taking part in a non-compliance strategy.
Photo: Outside the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse in Phoenix (Diane Ovalle)