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Protests of Arizona governor planned in Boston

By Russell Contreras
Associated Press Writer / July 6, 2010

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BOSTON—Immigrant advocates are rallying fellow activists to protest Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer during her scheduled visit this weekend for the National Governors Association meeting in Boston.

The Washington, D.C.-based ANSWER Coalition and others are putting out pamphlets, sending e-mails and making preparations to bring in protesters by bus to express their opposition to Arizona's controversial immigration law, recently signed by Brewer.

The law, scheduled to take effect July 29, requires police to question people about their immigration status while enforcing other laws if there's reason to suspect someone is in the country illegally.

But the law is facing a challenge by the U.S. Justice Department, which filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on Tuesday over the constitutionality of the law. The lawsuit argues that Arizona's new measure requiring state and local police to question and possibly arrest illegal immigrants during the enforcement of other laws usurps federal authority.

Sarah Sloan, a national organizer with the ANSWER Coalition, said protesters across the East want to voice their opposition to Brewer's decision to sign the bill and want "to send a clear message" to other governors not to support similar laws.

"The law may become a model for other states," Sloan said. "We don't want to see any further action that would legalize racial profiling anywhere else."

The Arizona law has strong support at home, said Paul Senseman, a spokesman for Brewer.

"Gov. Brewer has been very grateful for the overwhelming support this legislation has received from the vast majority of Arizonans, as well as what appears to be a significant majority of Americans," said Senseman.

The law has sparked protests and boycotts from cities and civil rights groups that argue it could unfairly target people of color.

Supporters contend that racial profiling concerns are unfounded and that the state's policy has been triggered by the federal government's failure to enforce immigration laws.

A rally is planned Saturday at Boston's Copley Square, followed by a march to the nearby Sheraton Hotel, where the 102nd annual governors meeting is planned. The protest is one of many expected this weekend for the meeting.

For example, law enforcement officers are expected to protest Gov. Deval Patrick's policy to use civilian flaggers instead of police details at state highway work sites.

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