The controversial new immigration law in Arizona has spurred a series of protests by youth and youth organizers, who say the law unfairly discriminates against Latinos.
Nine young adult activists, who’ve been dubbed the “Capitol 9,” were arrested last month after they chained themselves to the doors of the state Capitol in protest of the law, which makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally and requires local police to enforce federal immigration laws. When the law takes effect later this year, it will require anyone police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document,” such as a green card, or proof of citizenship, such as a passport, or an Arizona driver’s license.
Supporters say the law is necessary to get control of the border state’s illegal immigration problem. Polls show that it has wide support among Arizonans. Critics say the law will lead to racial profiling, and some plan to challenge it in court.
Whatever one’s view of the law, the controversy has served as an impetus for youth workers to get youths civically engaged.
Daniel Rodríguez, 24, a youth organizer working with the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, which supports a bill that would enable undocumented students to live in the country legally, says the coalition plans to visit high schools to give lessons in civic engagement and the power of vote.
“If they ask themselves, ‘We marched, now what do we do?’ this is the second part that we have been missing for years – to really have an established long-term movement, to have youth voters organize and be ready to take action,” Rodríguez told Feet in 2 Worlds, a website that advocates for immigrants in the United States.
Someone identified as Eduardo Lopez, one of the Capitol 9, told the website, “I hope we are in the beginning steps of a youth movement.”