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Protests of Arizona immigration law promised as deadline looms

Protests and rallies are being planned in Phoenix and around the country on July 29, the day police are set to begin enforcing the controversial Arizona immigration law.

By Daniel B. WoodStaff writer / July 23, 2010

Demonstrators wait to be arrested during a protest against Arizona's new immigration law outside the US District Court in Phoenix on Thursday.

Joshua Lott/Reuters

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The furor over tough new Arizona immigration law will take the form of rallies, vigils, marches, and protests beginning next Thursday, the day the law is scheduled to take effect.

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The statute, which requires state and local law enforcement agencies to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons, and makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, is the subject of seven lawsuits, the third of which, brought by the Justice Department, was heard Thursday. No injunction has yet been issued to stop the law.

“Events are happening all over the state because the eyes of the nation and the world are on Arizona,” says Jennifer Allen, executive director of Border Action Network, one of the activist groups planning events to protest the law.

The protests will extend beyond Arizona, as well. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) has 56 partners signed up to protest – from Action Langley Park in College Park, Md., to Working Hands Legal Clinic in Chicago. Separate protests are also planned in South Bend, Ind., and elsewhere across the country. Economic boycotts of Arizona have been proposed since the law's passage, and have seen varying levels of success.

The executive director of NDLON, Pablo Alvarado, calls the law "absolutely unacceptable to our community," and said that the organizers are urging peaceful resistance. “The other side has legislators and men with badges, but these are the only tools we have at our disposal,” he says. Mr. Alvarado says some union-sponsored caravans of workers are already scheduled to head to Phoenix from Los Angeles to protest the law.

A less vocal majority, according to public opinion polls, supporters of the immigration law are planning rallies of their own.

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