Community leaders and residents in Phoenix, Arizona gathered in front of the State Capitol to protest against proposed Law 1231, which would make it a crime for an undocumented person to enter the state. This proposed law would also allow authorities to arrest people on suspicion that they are undocumented. Activists are calling it a version “on steroids” of the controversial SB 1070 that was approved in 2010.
Salvador Reza, leader of the Neighborhood Defense Committee, expressed concern over the proposed law, stating that it would give local authorities the power to act as federal agents, which is unacceptable. He also mentioned that they would start a boycott campaign against Arizona with their allies if the bill becomes a reality. Other states like Texas and Florida are also being encouraged to join the boycott.
María del Rayo, a resident of the valley, joined the protest because she does not want to live in fear again. She expressed that there is already enough racism in their communities without having to fear the laws of the government and the police.
The proposed “Arizona Invasion Act” was introduced by a group of Republican legislators and is similar to the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” Activists are concerned about the potential for racial profiling and abuse of power by law enforcement if this bill is approved.
SB 1070, which was the most severe law against illegal immigration in the United States, made it a state misdemeanor for an alien to reside in Arizona without legal status, visa, or permit. It also allowed law enforcement officers to detain people on reasonable suspicion that the individual was an illegal immigrant.
While the proposal SB 1231 still has a long way to go before reaching Governor Katie Hobbs’ desk to be approved or vetoed, experts see it as unlikely that it will be signed in the near future. Marcelino Quiñonez, representative of District 11, stated that the proposal is unconstitutional and has no chance of being approved. He urged the community to remain calm and contact their representatives to demand that they vote against the bill.
In addition to the protest, there are organizations in Arizona that offer assistance for the citizenship application process. Chicanos por la Causa, Promise Arizona (PAZ), Mi Familia Vota, and Friendly House are some of the organizations that provide low-cost consultations, assistance with filling out forms, document translation services, and free legal consultations for those interested in naturalization and citizenship.
It is important for those who are eligible to apply for citizenship to be at least 18 years old, have a Permanent Resident Card, have been permanent residents of the United States for the last 5 years, or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen, among other requirements. Applicants must submit their application using Form N-400 and prepare for a history exam and government of the country, in addition to an English exam, so they must have a basic level of written, read, and spoken English.
The community is encouraged to seek assistance from these organizations to navigate the citizenship application process and ensure that their voices are heard in the fight against proposed laws that could negatively impact their lives.
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Politics, World, Local