The Capitol Building in Salt Lake belongs to the people. On Jan. 24, a group of Utah residents, including a group of students from Utah Valley University, took the steps for a cause.
United For Social Justice, a Utah equal rights organization, held a rally in opposition of a newly proposed law that would create state imposed anti-immigration laws.
The event coincided with the first day of the Utah Legislative session. The law has been mostly moved forward by Republican Representative Stephen Sandstrom.
The organizers of the event used the rallying cry “Don’t let Utah become Arizona.” The slogan references Arizona’s recently passed and controversial S.B. 1070 which enforces strict state run anti-immigration in an attempt to close its borders.
The rally included several speakers from students of AMES High School, students and faculty of UVU and citizens and professionals in different fields of immigration.
Free shirts with the question, “Do I look illegal?” were given out to anyone that wanted to participate in the event.
“It is not us versus them,” said Mark Alvarez, an immigration attorney at the rally. “We are all hybrids, American hybrids.”
Melody Gutierrez, one of the lead organizers and a member of United for Social Justice, brought up another statement that would carry through the rally: “Education not deportation.”
“What is the point of sending [immigrants] back to their homelands?” said Kaylee Nicole West Jeffers, a student from AMES high school.
Alvarez and Gutierrez talked about how the state capitol was not the place for immigration reform.
Gregory Lucero, a UVU student and member of the Revolutionary Students Union on campus, stood with a bullhorn and led the crowd of over 100 on the steps in chants of protest. Some of the cries included “No human is illegal,” “Fund education, not deportation,” and “Shame on Sandstrom.”
While there was some emphasis to fighting back, a number of the leaders spoke of the importance of making sure it was done without violence.
Sandstrom is hoping the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act will go into effect on July, 1, 2011. To read the bill visit: http://media.bonnint.net/slc/2318/231853/23185314.pdf.