Drilling into flesh with warmth, a bright sun bore down heavily on our skin as we approached the Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. All four of us are Latino UVU students: Agustin Diaz Jr. (Me), Tony Castillo, Betty Ruiz, and a prospective UVU student Albert Anzar.
We were tense but excited riding from Provo to meet up with the scheduled rally. Our anxiety over the uncertainty of everything only made us more curious to engage and speak for those of our people who exist with little to no voice in this country. After all, we all felt strongly about what was occurring with illegal immigration and growing sentiment against Hispanics, and we had deep-seated intentions on making a difference. Rep. Stephen Sandstrom is currently drafting an sB1070-type law that will affect the Hispanic community in chaotic ways, and he may have the support.
We entered the quiet Capitol building, we see no crowd and immediately feel let down. All of a sudden, a wave of noise comes from upstairs! A roar of chants and stomping feet envelop the hall and we set out to chase after the clamor to find what we’ve been looking for, our rally! We join the diverse crowd of skin tones and organizations, 200 strong, and we combined our voices to the ensemble of cries and declared that all humans had the right to live free in an existence replete with opportunity and love.
We looked on the opposite direction where the opposition stood – only two strong! They held their signs and the lovely American flag, but here we were using our voices as a symbolic representation of justice and our presence as the support of an oppressed people. We stood tall with pride, adorned with messages on our clothing and posters embroidered with the declaration of oblivious injustice, and we demanded rights for undocumented immigrants on American soil. Several speakers spoke on subjects such as equality and social justice. Then we marched to the federal building.
There was power as we marched towards that edifice. We marched with slogans such as, “Si se Puede” and “No Human is Illegal,” with uniformity, accompanied by horns from supporters in cars! One couldn’t help but feel that a difference was being made. That our voices coupled with the orchestra of fellow activists held refuge and strength throughout the small stretch of pavement from the Capitol to the Federal Building in Salt Lake City.
We were fighting against the racist and ill treatment of undocumented people, and the dehumanizing effect that the conservative media has instilled in the public against them. We were fighting back, in the most democratic way we could but we realized that more still needs to be done with more support and awareness. Just like how Arizona Governor Janet Brewer indicated to reporters after hearing Federal Judge Bolton’s block on the immigration bill that this is only the beginning, for Utahan’s fighting unconstitutional drafts of immigration laws this is also just the beginning.