Youth and the Two Futures of Arizona
By Joel Olson
As spring heats into summer in the desert, two Arizonas fight for supremacy. One, lodged in power in the Arizona State Capitol, drafts anti-immigrant and “fiscally responsible” bills with glee. It is old, it is white, it is dour and narrow. The other protests these bills from outside the capitol walls. It is young, it is largely brown, it is hopeful but it is angry, and it aims to clash with the old Arizona. On Thursday it earned its first victory.
On Wednesday, one hundred youth from six weeks old to drinking age marched on the Capitol to protest a rash of anti-immigrant bills that, if passed, would have made Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 look like an act of charity. These five bills challenged the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship and would have required every member of official society—from nurses to teachers to school secretaries to doctors to employers—to check a person’s immigration status before healing or educating or hiring them.
The youngest walked in front, dressed up in costumes that represented what they want to be when they grow up. High school and college students followed them. And so the next generation of doctors, baseball players, construction workers, and firefighters descended on the capitol. They chanted “Our Freedom! Our Future!” and sang the civil rights standard, “This Little Light of Mine.” One 30-foot banner had hundreds of kids’ handprints on it along with written messages to the legislature. Another, carried by middle school students, read “Russell Pearce: Why Do You Hate AZ Youth?”
By Katie Fahrenbruch
I am not ashamed of Arizona.
I’m angry and disgusted by Russell Pearce, Sheriff Joe and Jan Brewer (to name a few), I’m filled with rage when I think about SB 1070 and the cowards who supported it, and I’m utterly devastated every time I hear another family has been torn apart—but I’m not ashamed, because this not all that Arizona is.
I am a lifelong resident of this beautiful state. I was born here, I was raised here, and I have become myself here among the heat, and the mountains, and the never ending sprawl. As I prepare to leave this place—my home for 24 years, my family and all those I hold close to my heart—I have begun to really think about what Arizona is and what it means to me, and I can confidently say that it doesn’t mean politicians, it doesn’t mean white supremacist laws, and it doesn’t mean broken families.
By Joel Olson
In the struggle over the notorious anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-working class law SB 1070, a person might be tempted to see this as a conflict that plays out among the elites of Arizona politics: legislators, governors, sheriffs, newspaper editors, judges, lawyers, and nonprofits. This view would be understandable, but wrong. The real battle is at the grassroots.
By Joel Olson
In the midst of the Arizona state government passing the most outrageous anti-immigrant law since the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, several happenings pass unnoticed by the national media. At a packed Flagstaff City Council meeting discussing the law, waves of people declare publicly that they are undocumented, practically daring law enforcement officers to arrest them. At the same meeting, a member of a radical immigrant rights group receives thunderous applause for demanding the repeal of all anti-immigrant laws and declaring the right of all people to “live, love, and work wherever they please.” Even the most conservative city councilman admits he liked the notion. Down in Phoenix, high school students spontaneously organize a school walkout through mass texting, without direction from the established immigration reform organizations. This infuriates the organizations because it pre-empts “their” planned protests. And then these same students chuck water bottles at cops when they arrest one of their own.
Welcome to the new Arizona.
What is Repeal?
The Arizona Repeal Coalition is an organization committed to repealing over 60 anti-immigrant laws and bills that have been passed or considered by Arizona politicians in the past few years. We demand the repeal of all laws—federal, state, and local—that degrade and discriminate against undocumented individuals and that deny U.S. citizens their lawful rights. We demand that all human beings—with papers or without—be guaranteed access to work, housing, health care, education, legal protection, and other public benefits, as well as the right to organize. Our strategy is to help build a grass roots social movement that can repeal these laws, change the terms of the national debate on immigration, and expand the freedom of all people—documented and undocumented.