Reportback: Leaving Phoenix, AZ – Solidarity Trip for Immigrant Rights – Notes from EunSook Lee, NAKASEC’s Executive Director with prefacing statements from KRC participants.
Retired senior Ok Sook Hong said, “Today is Sunday. I had to go to church. Yet, I thought about this SB 1070 and asked what Jesus would do. I believe that Jesus would go to Arizona to condemn this inhumane law. That’s why I came and I made the right decision. During the rally I prayed for those supporters of SB1070 and asked God to please help them have soul and humanity. We have to try to make this country more humane.”
An immigrant student leader who joined our bus had just come back from Arizona via the CHIRLA solidarity bus two days before. He said, “I returned on Friday morning and woke to hear that the governor had signed SB 1070. I decided to come back to the state capitol today to be with my brothers and sisters in Arizona.”
Phoenix, AZ— After driving about 400 miles from Los Angeles via bus, NAKASEC and KRC participated in a rally condemning the passage of SB1070. A few thousand Arizonans and some supporters from states as far as Colorado gathered to strongly oppose Governor Brewer’s signing of the new state law. SB 1070 will legalize racial profiling and make it a crime for individuals not to carry registration documents.
Seniors, working people, and children filled our bus, most of whom had never been to Arizona. Recent events in Arizona struck a nerve. Individuals including Darren, a social worker from Detroit and here in Los Angeles to meet friends felt compelled to come. While our participants were mostly Korean Americans, our bus included Latino students, whites, and African Americans.
When we arrived in Phoenix, we decided to drum as we marched to lift the people’s spirits. The crowd included many families and young people. Many thanked us and were surprised that we had come from afar.
The rally program included SEIU’s Eliseo Medina, Pablo Alvarado from the National Day Laborers Organizing Network along with other national and local leaders. NAKASEC Executive Director EunSook Lee represented California on the rally stage during the regional shout outs. A highlight was Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. Rep Gutierrez has truly emerged as a national leader on immigration reform; he is a much needed and appreciated voice.
In Arizona, we realized the importance of being there. We interviewed with mainstream and Spanish-language media who asked why we were there. Our response was that we are immigrants, too. As immigrants, Latino or otherwise, the passage of SB 1070 must be decried from all part of the country. It would be unconscionable for us allow such a misguided and racist bill pass in silence. We also urged Congress and the President to move immigration reform legislation immediately.
What happens in Arizona matters to the rest of America
Within days of the passage and signing of SB1070, the people of Arizona responded immediately. The rally, promoted only days before, drew thousands. Similarly for us, it took us 24 hours to fill the bus. A lot more work must be done to counter the repercussions of this new law – urgent planning and many next steps. Join us in the days to come because the need has never been greater for broad community participation.