NC residents to protest Arizona law

July 29, 2010 4:23:25 AM PDT
Some local groups are gearing up to protest Arizona's controversial immigration law on Thursday.The law is slated to go into effect Thursday, but without the tough provisions that have angered opponents.

A federal court ruled Wednesday that police won't be allowed to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally and require immigrants to carry their papers at all times.

The ruling is a victory for the Obama administration, which says the Arizona law is unconstitutional.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is promising to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, but authorities are bracing for immigration protests Thursday across the country.

In the Triangle, hundreds of demonstrators are expected to march from Nash Square to the state capitol at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Organizers say their concerns with the Arizona legislation are the same concerns they have about programs in place in North Carolina.

"I think the issue here right now is about racial profiling," NC Justice Center Community Organizer Fernando Mejia said.

Mejia says the center receives complaints about profiling in North Carolina. He says the secure communities and the 287G programs, which allow law enforcement to check immigration status of arrestees and send fingerprints to Homeland Security, are unfair.

"Instead of building healthy communities it's destroying our families and our communities," Mejia said.

However, Raleigh's police chief defends 287G.

"287G across the country has made great strides in getting violent criminals off the streets," Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan said.

But Dolan says he would have concerns if North Carolina adopted legislation similar to that in Arizona. He doesn't want local officers focused on immigration enforcement.

"We've taken on the cost of the officer, we've taken the cost of them being out of service, housing, and going through booking and if ICE doesn't deport them what do we do," Dolan said.

Dolan is also concerned victims would be reluctant to report crime.

But the conservative John W. Pope Civitas Institute says illegal immigrants put themselves in that position.

"The very act of coming into the country illegally has broken a law," said Francis X. De Luca, president of the Civitas Institute. "Most of the immigrants to the US have come in legally so there's no reason the rest can't. We do need some work on national immigration laws ..marching against states who are trying to do it the right way is not the answer."

One thing Civitas, Raleigh's police chief and NC Justice Center do agree on is that the federal government has dropped the ball and that national immigration reform is needed.

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