Protesters focus on immigrants' treatment

Citizen Staff Writer
Aug. 8, 2001

For the first time in its two-year history, a Tucson-based group says it will press for international attention on what it sees as discrimination against Mexican immigrants here.

"We're taking issues and struggles from the Arizona area to put pressure on the United States and pushing for equality, dignity and justice for each member of our community, and that includes immigrants," said Jennifer Allen, 27, of the Southwest Alliance to Resist Militarization (SWARM).

The group, which lobbies for immigrant rights, picketed the DeConcini Federal Courthouse, 405 W. Congress St., yesterday to protest "rising anti-immigrant racism."

Representatives from La Coalición de Derechos Humanos also took part in the one-hour protest, which began at 4:30 p.m.

A representative of the local human rights groups later this month will join the Immigrant Rights Working Group at the United Nations World Conference in Durban, South Africa, to talk about Arizona's border issues, Allen said.

Yesterday, protesters stood on the corner of West Congress Street and South Granada Avenue, where they had placed wooden crosses representing migrants who have died crossing the border.

Their signs read: "U.S. Border policy is racist" and "Equality and Justice for all."

Immigrants have lower wages, harsher work environments and "aren't able to organize. It's because of the militarization (of the border) and treatment of them as lower status, but it's not just the government, it's businesses, too," Allen said.

Adán Luévano, member of La Coalición de Derechos Humanos, sees a need for immediate change.

"It's a hostile environment (immigrants are) working in," said 27-year-old Luévano about Mexicans who work in the Tucson area.

Luévano has seen immigrant workers standing without harnesses on rooftops, throwing and catching 40-pounds of material, he said.

"These people don't come here to take a vacation," Luévano said. "They come here because they are trying to make a living for their family."