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Activists gather downtown to call for federal appeals court to overturn Arizona's immigration law

November 1, 2010 |  1:19 pm

Several dozen immigrant rights activists rallied in front of a federal building in Los Angeles Monday morning to call for overturning Arizona’s tough new immigration law. The protest was scheduled to coincide with a federal appeals court hearing in San Francisco, where a three-judge panel heard arguments for and against an injunction a federal district court judge placed on some of the most controversial provisions of the Arizona law known as SB1070.

The Obama administration and civil rights groups have challenged the law in separate lawsuits. The injunction, which Arizona is appealing, prevents the state from requiring immigrants to carry papers showing lawful residency in the United States. It has also halted a requirement that local law enforcement officials check the immigration status of anyone they lawfully stop and suspect is in the country illegally.

Critics of the law have said it would lead to racial profiling. “We don’t want a partial injunction –- we want a complete overturn of this law,” said Paulina Gonzalez, a spokeswoman with the Todos Somos Arizona -- or We Are All Arizona -- coalition, which convened the rally in Los Angeles. The activists carried signs urging a boycott of Arizona and declaring “Arizona = Police State.” They chanted “Up with the people -- down with racism” and “The people united will never be divided” in Spanish.

Maria Aide Hernandez, a 27-year-old Mexican immigrant who has lived in L.A. for 10 years, said immigrant workers at the Los Angeles carwash where she used to work were afraid to protest against being short-changed on wages or forced to work in unsafe conditions because of the coordination between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and immigration officials. “Our community is going to be afraid to denounce crimes, afraid to cooperate with investigations and afraid to seek help when it’s needed,” she said in Spanish.

-- Abby Sewell