April 29, 2010

Students Storm Class to Protest Arizona Immigration Law

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Donning signs reading “Mexican-lookng,” “Sub-human” and “Alien,” members of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano  de Aztlán protested Arizona’s recently-passed immigration reform bill in an ILROB 1220: Introduction to Organizational Behavior class this Wednesday.

The class witnessed an example of what could occur in Arizona any day due to Senate Bill 1070, according to Natalie Ramirez ’11, co-chair of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán.  The bill, which Arizona’s governor signed Apr. 23, gives police the authority to detain anyone suspected of being in the United States illegally.

The bill attempts to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants, according to The New York Times.

“What’s up with these people?” asked one student in the back of the lecture hall.

Minutes later, two more demonstrators acting as immigration and customs enforcement officers demanded that students provide immigration papers as they walked down the aisles.

“Where are your papers?” a demonstrator asked one student. “You don’t look American.”

The “officers” picked out the demonstrators wearing the cardboard signs and forced them to kneel on the ground in front of the rest of the class before leading them out of the lecture hall.

Ramirez said the demonstration in Introduction to Organizational Behavior followed another in a quantum physics lecture on Wednesday.

The idea for the demonstration came from a similar version that was enacted at Yale.

“We wanted to do something that was quick and effective,” said Ramirez, who said more demonstrations will occur for the rest of this week and into next week. “We are targeting big lecture halls, so we can get as much exposure as possible.”

Some students in the class did not appear to understand the purpose of the demonstration. When the demonstrators pretending to be enforcement officers walked down the aisle, one student thought it was a teaching assistant collecting class papers.

Ramirez said she did not expect many people to know about the proposed Arizona law, which is why she and other volunteers handed out flyers after class directing students to an informational website.  The website explained the problem and ways to take action.

“The point of these demonstrations is to bring awareness, but more important than that, it is to bring people to action,” Ramirez said. “Whether it is signing petitions, making phone calls or sending emails, we want people to realize this is a problem and do something about it.”

Original Author: Andrew Boryga