- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, which went into effect in limited form Thursday, has caused some cities and lawmakers to reconsider their boycotts against the state, but Hispanic and other activist groups say they will continue their protests until the law is entirely struck down.

While hundreds of demonstrators protested against the law Thursday in Phoenix and elsewhere across the nation, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, rescinded his earlier support for boycotts Thursday, asking that protesting entities reconsider in light of Judge Susan Bolton’s decision.

Mr. Grijalva was originally outspoken in asking groups to cancel conferences and conventions in Arizona, but said in a statement after the ruling that the preliminary injunction of key parts of SB 1070 means it is time to focus on other issues.

“We need to concentrate on the economy, the lack of jobs and teachers, and the other crucial issues facing Arizona and the rest of the country,” Mr. Grijalva said. “As part of this pause, I am encouraging national groups to return their conventions and conferences to the state to help us change the political and economic climate.”

California state Sen. Gil Cedillo, the Democratic sponsor of the resolution calling for the only statewide boycott of Arizona, has also urged his state to reconsider its position, saying Judge Bolton’s injunction removed, at least temporarily, many of the troubling aspects of SB 1070, including the requirement that immigrants carry visas and that police officers must check immigration status while enforcing other laws.

“We’re pleased that the judge laid that out yesterday,” Mr. Cedillo told The Washington Times. “We were very pleased with the effect of the boycott, we know it had a tremendous effect. We are going to re-evaluate.”

But Arizona insisted Thursday that even the legal fight over staying those provisions wasn’t over.

The state filed an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asking the panel to lift Judge Bolton’s stay. Arizona asked for prompt action but there was no immediate response or time frame from the panel.

Meanwhile on Thursday, protesters mobbed downtown Phoenix and about 50 were arrested. More than 30 were seized by officers clad in riot gear outside Maricopa County jail, the headquarters of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, when they tried to block the entrance and tried to pound on the jail’s steel-clad doors.

“Sheriff Joe, we are here, we will not live in fear,” they chanted, according to reporters in Phoenix. Sheriff Arpaio said his deputies “will arrest them and put them in pink underwear,” referring to a form of humiliating treatment he uses. “Count on it.”

Other demonstrations took place in Tucson, Los Angeles and New York. In the Los Angeles demonstration, according to the Associated Press, about 200 people blocked a major intersection for more than three hours, declaring “these are our streets.” After police declared it an unlawful assembly, about a dozen refused to disperse and lay in the street in a circle.

In New York, about 300 demonstrators gathered near the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan and then marched over the Brooklyn Bridge, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty demanding full repeal of the law and carrying Spanish signs, including one that said “No human being is illegal.”

While Hispanic lobbying groups expressed approval of Wednesday’s court decision, they also called the ruling a “partial victory” and said they will continue boycotting until the law is completely struck down.

“Tomorrow promises to be a much brighter day in Arizona than anyone thought it would be just 24 hours ago,” said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund (MALDEF). But that victory “must be tempered by the knowledge that any provision that remains in place is ripe for misuse. The hard work to vindicate fully our federal constitutional values must continue.”

A coalition of groups, including MALDEF and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, filed a lawsuit in May challenging what it called the discriminatory measure and asked the court to temporarily block the law while the case was litigated. Now that their request has been granted, they plan to keep fighting.

“We will not rest until day laborers have their full rights respected to solicit work on public streets. We are ready to continue the battle. Poor people have never been given anything for free and we plan to fight this to the bitter end,” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the day-labor network.

Mr. Cedillo also said he thinks Los Angeles will be relieved about deciding after the court ruling to put a hold on its boycott.

“Boycotts are not easy things,” said Mr. Cedillo, who represents a mostly Hispanic district in the Los Angeles area. “They require sacrifice.”

Apart from the issue of boycotting Arizona, Mr. Cedillo said that the fight proves the federal government must pass an immigration bill, reiterating views he stated while he was supporting a boycott.

“The main point for us is that Congress must act and the president must lead; it puts the ball squarely in Congress’ court,” he said.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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