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19 arrested at SF immigration rally

July 29, 2010 12:10:47 AM PDT
On Wednesday night, a small immigration protest in San Francisco grew into a much bigger problem. Demonstrators started blocking the street in front of the Federal Building just after 5 p.m. That's when police began moving in to make arrests.

There were 19 people arrested and by 6 p.m. the rally came to an end.

At the federal building in San Francisco, the words came first, followed by a pre-planned action. Members of the clergy, in support of undocumented immigrants, not only took to the streets, but took 7th Street for themselves.

"Clergy are standing up because it's a moral indignation," said community organizer Rev. Israel Alvaran.

They had planned the rally before the day's court order in Arizona.

"The courts said that federal law is the supreme law of the land. Federal immigration law has always tried to preserve the rights of individuals and this statute does not do that," said ABC7 political analyst Dean Johnson.

The Arizona court's action does not end debate and probably extends it, but for now, it does stop Arizona from implementing the new law's toughest provisions. There will be no police detention for reasonable suspicion, no warrantless arrests for people suspected of deportable crimes, and it blocks provisions that would have made being an illegal alien, or looking for work as an illegal alien, a state crime. It also puts on hold a requirement for immigrants to carry their papers.

In Arizona, Wednesday, illegal immigrants and those who support them celebrated. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer expects to appeal, and send this case to the Supreme Court.

"They need to step up, the feds do, and do the job that they have the responsibility to do," said Brewer.

Her frustration extends well beyond Arizona to certain parities in California.

"The problem is that for the past 45 years the federal government has been impotent about unrestricted immigration," said legal immigration advocate Jerome Ghigliotti.

In Marin County, Ghigliotti wrote an as-yet, unvoted-on initiative for Novato that would require all city contractors to verify their employees' citizenship. He sees California having much at stake in Arizona's fight.

"The liberals have a very good heart, they want to do everything and for everyone, but as we have seen in the past year, we can't do that without going bankrupt," says Ghigliotti.

Back in San Francisco, the script played out with clergy occuping 7th Street, police asking them to leave, and then forcing them out, placing the demonstrators under arrest.

For the record, none of them were undocumented immigrants.


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