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Demonstrators protest Arizona immigration law outside Supreme Court

April 25, 2012|By Ian Duncan
  • Demonstrators pray during a protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington.
Demonstrators pray during a protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in… (Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON -- Imitating the biblical battle of Jericho, a small group marched around the United States Supreme Court to protest Arizona’s restrictive immigration law, which was being debated inside.

With a clutch of white-robed clergy at their head, the 75 marchers moved in silence around the court building, their arrival at each corner announced by blasts from a trumpet. Organizers had hoped for a bigger crowd, but they said busloads of activists were held up in traffic.

Before the march the protesters gathered in silent prayer, their hands raised, while the lyrics of a country song played by supporters of the law, a group of 16 of who were also rallying at the front of the court, wafted over.

Arizona’s law requires police officers to check the immigration status of people they stop if there is “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally, and makes it illegal for undocumented people to seek work. Enforcement of the law has been placed on hold pending the Supreme Court ruling. The Obama administration is challenging the law on the grounds that immigration policy cannot be handled by states.

The crowd protesting the law was a mix of white, black and Hispanic and chanted in English and Spanish. Early in the morning, as the sun rose from behind the marble Supreme Court building, activists prayed and heard stories from people affected by the law.

Dulce Matuz, a 27-year-old illegal immigrant, described how she lost her real estate license when the law was passed. She said she had had a successful business and had sold about 50 houses.

“Some us went deeper into the shadows,” when the law passed, Matuz said, others stood up and said they were “undocumented and unafraid.

Time magazine recently named Matuz one of the 100 most influential people of 2012 for her work campaigning for the Dream Act, which would give legal residency to certain high school graduates who came to this country illegally.

Jim Shee, a retiree from Tucson, Ariz., who is one of the plaintiffs in the case, addressed opponents of the law, telling them he had been stopped twice by police since it was enacted on the grounds that he “looked suspicious.”

In an interview, Shee, who is 72, said he has been taken for Thai, Vietnamese, Native American and Hispanic. In fact, he said, he was born in the United States and has both Chinese and Spanish genes.

“The thing everyone has to realize is this is not just a Hispanic or Latino issue,” he said. “Anyone of color can be affected.”

Twisting that sentiment, Bob Shoemaker, a supporter of the law from northern Virginia, held a banner urging Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to drop a bill that would give amnesty to illegal Irish immigrants.

“We don’t care where you’re from, if you’re here illegally, go home,” he said. “We cannot afford to be the dumping ground of the Third World.”

ian.duncan@latimes.com

Original source: Demonstrators protest Arizona immigration law outside Supreme Court

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