As thousands of people took to the streets of Phoenix to protest Arizona’s strict new immigration enforcement law, S.B. 1070, a crowd rallied at Oakland’s Fruitvale Plaza on Saturday in a show of solidarity. A few weeks earlier, Oakland’s City Council had unanimously passed a resolution condemning Arizona’s law and calling for a city boycott of the state and businesses headquartered there.
Arizona’s new law allows police to detain people on suspicion of being in the country illegally and criminally charge immigrants if they are not carrying immigration documents. But many of the 50 or so people who gathered in Fruitvale expressed concern about immigration enforcement efforts here in the Bay Area. “Everything that is happening in Arizona is extending here,” said Mayra, an Oakland resident from Mexico who declined to give her last name. “We are all scared.”
Event organizer Adriana Gil Nafarrate of Mujeres Unidas y Activas, a support group for immigrant women that has offices in Oakland, said she was concerned about Secure Communities, a federal program that allows Immigration and Customs Enforcement to review the fingerprints of everyone booked in local jails to check their immigration status.
“It is going to make our community less safe,” Gil Nafarrate said. She warned that immigrants will be more reluctant to call the police because of the new program that went into effect in Alameda County on April 20. “Any interaction with police is already scary for the immigrant community and this will make it more so,” she said.
Some Oakland community members traveled to Arizona to join the Phoenix march. Among them were three Oakland clergy members who went to Arizona’s capitol with a delegation of black faith leaders from the Bay Area to voice their opposition to what they called a “discriminatory” law. In a statement to the press before departing on Thursday, Pastor Brian Woodson of the Bay Area Christian Connection said, “In Arizona there are forces trying to turn the clock back to the 1950s, back to a shameful era when our community’s basic rights were constantly violated.”
Supporters of S.B. 1070 are due to march in Tempe on Saturday evening.
This article was amended to correct the location of the pro-S.B. 1070 march to Tempe.
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