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L.A. labor leaders plan to send activists to Arizona to protest new immigration law

May 24, 2010 |  4:25 pm

Los Angeles labor leaders plan to send five bus-loads of activists to Arizona on July 29, the day the state’s controversial new immigration law takes effect.

Participants plan to leave all their identifying paperwork behind in a challenge to the Arizona law, which, among other provisions, mandates that non-citizens carry immigration paperwork demonstrating their lawful presence in the United States. The statute also empowers local police to question people about their immigration status.

The law’s supporters say it is a legitimate response to widespread illegal immigration. Critics, including Maria Elena Durazo, who heads the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, says it amounts to racial profiling against Latinos.

“If this was Arizona and not Los Angeles, I would say standing before you today are a  group of ‘suspicious’-looking people,” Durazo told a news conference Monday. “You can’t tell by looking at us who was born here, who has a green card, who served their country in the armed forces, who works hard every day, pays their taxes, raises a family, sends their kids to school and helps them with their homework.”

Labor unions nationwide have assailed the Arizona law and called on Congress to address “comprehensive” immigration reform, which would include some path toward legal residency for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants.

-- Patrick McDonnell