One Year After SB 1070, Arizona's Immigrant Networks Are Stronger

One Year After SB 1070, Arizona's Immigrant Networks Are Stronger

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Traducción al español

PHOENIX—It’s a warm afternoon at a trailer park in Central Phoenix as Isidro Carreras sets up chairs on his lawn. Neighbors start arriving gradually, until a group of about 30 people has gathered in a circle.

The session of the Comité de Defensa del Barrio (Neighborhood Defense Committee) is about to begin. The group is one of many that was formed with the help of the pro-immigrant organization PUENTE as a support network for immigrant families in the wake of the passage of Arizona's tough immigration law, SB 1070.

One year after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law, making it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Arizona, immigrant networks have grown stronger. Two years ago, there were no Neighborhood Defense Committees here. Now there are about 20 of these immigrant groups in different parts of Phoenix alone.

“SB 1070 really hurt us, but also united us as one,” says Carreras, a 57-year-old undocumented immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico.

Last summer, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked five provisions of SB 1070 from taking effect, a decision that was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last week. But the rest of the law has been implemented, including a provision that bans so-called “sanctuary cities”—cities that limit police involvement in immigration enforcement.

“They stopped part of the law, but everywhere they go on letting the police have a lot of discretion to ask who has documents or not,” says José Acosta, a U.S. citizen who is part of a Neighborhood Defense Committee in the city of Mesa.

Before the committees were formed, Carreras says, few immigrants understood their rights. When they were pulled over by the police and asked for their papers, undocumented immigrants often admitted that they were in the country illegally. Now they know they have the right to remain silent.

But what began as a way to support each other in the event of a possible police detention has taken on a life of its own. Neighbors in Carreras's group have decided to take on other issues that affect their quality of life.

“Before no one wanted to raise their voice because of their immigration status,” says Carreras. “Now we understand that together we are more powerful.”

More than 30 neighbors who own homes in the trailer park joined together two weeks ago to file a complaint with the Department of Fire, Building, and Life Safety to demand improvements to their property and to stop increases in their rent, which has climbed to $600 per lot.

“We are stuck here because no one would want to buy a trailer with such an expensive rent,” says Antonia Sánchez, a neighbor from Jalisco, Mexico.

But despite his hope that the property dispute will be resolved, Carreras admits that many immigrant families have left Arizona. A study released last year by BBVA Bancomer Research, a financial institution in Mexico, found that 100,000 Latinos had fled the state in 2010. Based on remittance information, the study estimated that about 23,000 of them were Mexican nationals who returned to Mexico from June through September 2010.

“If it weren't for the committees, many more people would have left,” Carreras says.

It isn't just immigrants who have banded together in the year since the immigration law went into effect. Business groups have noticed the cooling effect that SB 1070 has had on the local economy and have joined to oppose more anti-immigrant laws. Sixty CEOs sent a letter earlier this year urging Sen. Russell Pearce and other Republicans to reject additional tough immigration laws.

Todd Landfried, a spokesperson for Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, a group of more than 250 businesses in the state, says companies are realizing that SB 1070 drove away consumers and taxpayers, made it harder to find labor, and gave Arizona a bad reputation as a place to do business.

"There's a general concensus that [passing anti-immigrant legislation] has been a bad strategy for Arizona," Landfried says.

A study released this past March by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank in Washington, D.C., contrasts the economic effects of massive deportation with the effects of legalization of Arizona’s estimated half a million undocumented immigrants.

An enforcement-only approach could lead to a loss of 17.2 percent of total employment in the state and shrink the state's economy by $48.8 billion, according to the report. Legalizing undocumented immigrants in the state, meanwhile, could increase employment by close to 8 percent and increase state tax revenues by $1.68 billion.

As of last November, a boycott against the state had cost convention centers $141 million in cancellations, according to another CAP study.

Alfredo Gutierrez, a former Democratic state senator and editor of the bilingual online newspaper La Frontera Times in Phoenix, says that businesses turned against SB 1070 in the wake of the boycott and the efforts by pro-immigrant groups to exert political pressure, through civl disobedience demonstrations and behind the scenes.

The pro-immigrant movement in Arizona "is maturing politically—it was being pushed to the brink,” Gutierrez says.

Despite the recent defeat of five anti-immigrant bills in the Arizona legislature, conservatives lawmakers have vowed to push for similar measures next year. One of the bills sought to reinterpret the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to deny birthright citizenship to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. Another bill would have required proof of legal residence when students enroll in schools.

But a number of hardline immigration laws are already in effect in the state.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is currently enforcing a human-smuggling law that makes it a crime to smuggle immigrants and charges undocumented immigrants for conspiring with their smugglers. His agency also uses state identity theft laws to raid businesses in search of undocumented workers.

Carreras, who has been living in Arizona for 12 years, says it used to be easy to find work. But today, he says, businesses are under more scrutiny, and if they are caught hiring undocumented workers they could lose their license under the state’s employer sanctions law. Carreras lost his full-time carpentry job a year ago when the company demanded that he present legal documents. Now he makes a living doing odd jobs from carpentry to yard work.

Inside his trailer, Carreras has an altar with a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, surrounded by flowers.

Carreras is a man of faith, and he says ultimately that's what has kept him in the state.

“I think I manage to survive because I’m stubborn about staying here in Arizona,” he says. “I made a commitment to help these people and I will.”




 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Apr 22 2011

So now the illegal aliens are starting gangs as opposed to going home. Some people just won't learn.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 22 2011

I love that you gringos are getting nervous. The more racist the comment, the more desperate you sound. Hahahaha. Getting this land back with interest and you know it.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 22 2011

I love it that people use a racial slur when calling Americans "racist". You just proved that we need to keep out selfish people who have no respect for the laws.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 22 2011

If you want to see the 14.5 trillion dollar US deficit reduced, we must enforce our immigration laws. In 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act was a zero-tolerance policy that was subverted by business interests. We cannot afford any more half measures, from the ongoing resistance of politicians like Senator Harry Reid (D-NV in the growing reaching empowerment of the TEA PARTY. Illegal Immigration is an incendiary issue, caused over decades of Washington lack of sympathy to US worker, with estimates of 20 million foreign nationals feeding of the welfare system they have—NOT--attributed too? The worst issue is the instant baby citizenship law, which has become a perpetual foothold for hundreds of thousands of illegal families annually and probably the most fiscally of expenditure for taxpayers. Our overcrowded through k-12 schools are suffering, with hospital emergency rooms not far behind.

For the price of an airline ticket or dodging the US border patrol they arrive here with many afflictions, knowing from distant dialogue, that American physicians must treat you under the law. Arizona Policing laws subject to rejection by the Supreme Court in the future have dealt a sharp blow to the radical Leftists, that evidence is proving the laws are having a positive effect. Huge numbers of illegal unwelcome persons are moving out to places unknown. Interesting enough that I read an article that even though radical activists are boycotting Arizona in hope of eroding their commerce, the reverse has happened. Average Americans have seen through Obama's Department of In-Justice and streamed into the State, guaranteeing high concentrations of tourists. Arizona has a high foreclosure rate, but it was caused by the real estate crash, not boycotts. In fact it seems Canadians escaping from the cold weather swept in, brought properties and even my Ex-wife portends to buy a home there.

So the State of Arizona has made a roundabout turn, and the State is thriving and the populations of economic illegal immigrants are leaving for new turf. With malleable States nearby like Sanctuary California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado this is their final destination. These have been economic aliens and they have already devastated some of the Border States, with public service opportunities. President Obama held a meeting with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Trumka, leader of the AFL-CIO and a host of open border organizations and business lobbyists at the White House.

Little is known because the conference was closed to the press media, reassured it will lead to a dead end. Their evident reason to be there is to push for a mass amnesty, even at a time when 10 million Americans are still unemployed. Most people have no conception of these ramifications of a full volume amnesty, better dive into the web pages of NumbersUSA or Judicial Watch. You are assured this is only two of a nationwide grassroots revolution of pro-sovereignty entities, whose main issue is the illegal alien occupation. But even more so join a local TEA PARTY because under no circumstances will any kind of amnesty be passed. Only if President Obama successfully is reelected will this matter come up for a vote and the TEA PARTY will fight this pretense tooth and nail. You break the law; you must pay a penalty for it. Another amnesty no matter the fact will just attract more and more foreign nationals across our borders or to our shores.

The border is a volatile sticking point on illegal immigration, which other than around most cities and towns there is no real fencing. Its still is wide open to the drug cartels, the people smugglers and possible terrorist incursions according to Rancher Jim Chilton as stated this in his testimony. In a letter he drafted and claimed to the Department of Interior (DOI) and U.S. Department of Agriculture conference in Washington, that there was no border fence along 50 miles of his land. It should prove to all Americans, that there really is no serious attempt, to stop the inroad movement of foreign nationals no matter their intent? If there was illegal trespassing on sovereign land would be a felony, like Mexico and other countries. Janet Napolitano should take a trip to the ranchers land, and then declare the border was secure. What a sickening joke. One thing is for sure, the promise to the people from the TEA PARTY is that their Senators and Congressman enact bills, to build the Double Layer Fence and restrict any new laws on immigration. Illegal immigration has many financially unexposed branches, that many remain hidden from public view. Importation of less than perfect professional skills is another form of visa fraud as a demand for cheap labor. For years, a million or more semi-skilled labor has been arriving through stealth amnesties. Attn: Our election system has been compromised, as a 4 States have detected fraud from mostly non-citizens.

And Remember buy AMERICAN. Or soon your job may disappear? Elect Donald Trump! He is a billionaire and owes nobody in either party favors. He will stop the Chinese ripping us off. We owe them just this year 300 Billion dollars. He will negotiate the Free trade Agreements, as they unfair to American industry, draining billions of dollars in inferior goods. It will end Communist Buildup a military on our dollars. He will remove the tax incentives to move businesses into Mexico or overseas such as Maytag. We should give visas to the highest representatives of skilled workers, who will never use welfare, and put the enforcement brakes on impoverished illegal foreigners once and for all.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 22 2011

I love it too you gringo bastard

Anonymous

Posted Apr 28 2011

First the maths in the article are shoddy at best: half a million of illegal immigrants produce 48 billion of revenue that would have been remarkable if it was true. But not only numbers are the problem. Values are dubious too. Carreras is stubborn in breaking the law. That is not a man of faith. A man of faith does not enter his neighbor's home uninvited. Illegal aliens are not immigrants. Therefore a movement protecting illegals is not pro-immigrant it is anti-immigrant because it makes the lives of legal immigrants more difficult.

Anonymous

Posted May 24 2011

And send any one with them that doesn't like the law!!

Anonymous

Posted May 25 2011

Oh man ,more idiots about immigration Just think on how much money will be made if everyone becomes legal? It would add a few billions to the economy ,and that thing about "immigrants take our jobs" I want to see a US Citizen working on the fields or in a job that pays 7 bucks an hour ,much worse working outside under the sun....

Anonymous

Posted Jun 28 2011

I want to see US citizens working in the fields in the hot sun too. All the criminals should be taken out to the fields so farmers can have REAL:LY cheap labor and we could lessen the burden criminals have on tax payers.

Anonymous

Posted Sep 6 2011

All these Draconian laws will be slowly fading away. People will see that they are only good for division and hate, and to fuel the bigots, racist so called true americans. Sherriff Arpiou will end up in jail wearing his pink jailbait suit.

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