The state of Arizona was set to serve as the backdrop for a huge protest on the weekend of April 30 against a tough new state law aimed at identifying undocumented immigrants.
The legislation, which is poised to take effect this summer, has been perceived as a racially insensitive attack on illegal immigrants and will require police to question individuals about their immigration status, permit lawsuits against agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration law and make it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.
Protesters will be joined by the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, as well as other civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense.
According to the Associated Press, Sharpton has vowed to take a page from the 1960s Montgomery bus boycott and bring “Freedom Walkers” to Arizona at the risk of being arrest and jailed over the legislation.
In the Montgomery protest, the city’s Black residents decided to boycott the public transportation system until they could sit anywhere they wanted on the buses, rather than be relegated to the back whenever a White boarded.
“We will go to Arizona when this bill goes into effect and walk the streets with people who refuse to give identification and force arrest,” Sharpton told the AP. “There is no place in America for this illegal racial profiling.”
Sharpton added that he would urge civil rights and religious groups to avoid holding conventions in Arizona.
The new law has also stirred an uproar in Washington, D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents Washington, D.C. and is closely aligned with the Congressional Latino Council in the District, said in a recent statement that it was incumbent upon lawmakers to ensure that versions of the Arizona legislation not find roots in other states.
“ is so dangerously unconstitutional in recapturing long-discredited discriminatory laws, that an injunction should be immediately sought and granted before more harm is done,” Norton said in the statement.
Meanwhile, President Obama, who has labeled the Arizona mandate as “misguided,” has ordered the Justice Department to see if the measure violates federal law.