Young people were not the only ones to take a powerful stance that week; several hundred indigenous peoples from throughout the world rallied at the Tucson Immigration Department Headquarters, protesting Arizona's new racial profiling law.

By Roberto Rodriguez

New America Media

Before the DREAM students made their historic stance in Tucson, Ariz. in mid- May to stage a sit-in in Sen. John Mc- Cain’s office, and thereby subject themselves to deportation proceedings, this sun city had already been in the eye of the storm.

Young people were not the only ones to take a powerful stance that week; several hundred indigenous peoples from throughout the world rallied at the Tucson Immigration Department Headquarters, protesting Arizona’s new racial profiling law. This was followed by the dramatic takeover of a Border Patrol station in Tucson by more than a dozen members of the statewide O’Odham Solidarity Across Borders Collective. They were protesting the state’s draconian and nation’s anti-indigenous immigration policies. Six were arrested.

That law confirmed that Arizona is governed by extremist politicians. On the day it passed in April, nine human rights activists chained themselves to the capitol building. The anti-ethnic studies law, which was signed in May – resulting in 15 arrests as a result of the takeover of the state building – proved that the state has returned to the Dark Ages as this law sets up a mechanism to censor books and curriculums. (It was preceded by a siege of the Tucson Unified School District Headquarters by middle and high school students).

Two days before the racial profiling law passed, 800 military-clad federal agents swooped into South Tucson looking for human smugglers. This unprecedented action, along with the two laws precipitated protests, walkouts, marches, community forums, boycotts, vigils and runs in both Tucson and Phoenix.

Now, as students gathered in Tucson, something even bigger was about to happen. DREAM students from throughout the country – students without U.S. legal documents, who have been in this country since they were children – had decided to turn themselves in to bring awareness to the approximately 65,000 undocumented students who graduate annually and cannot continue their higher education. In the realm of civil disobedience, subjecting themselves to deportation was unfathomable.

But as they spoke of their proposed action, they stated that they were taking this historic action because they could no longer wait for others to act for them; the leadership of their movement would hereafter be in their own hands. And if they did enter deportation hearings, they believed they might be able to remain in the country for three to five years – enough time to bring about passage of the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act, in its original form, was first introduced in 2001. The logic of the act is that children are not responsible for the acts of their parents, meaning, that to break a law, one must be conscious that one is breaking a law. Many of the students were brought to this country as infants, thus, were incapable of breaking any law. The DREAM Act seeks to permit such students to continue on with their higher education.

The calculated gamble by the DREAM Students has paid off. Other DREAM students have stepped forward nationwide. Just a few weeks ago, the true identity of DREAM students was a closely guarded secret. Now they have confronted Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio himself and are leading marches nationwide including the recent massive march and rally in Phoenix.

The dramatic developments these past two months in Arizona – along with an international boycott of the state – reveal that resistance has entered a new phase. The movement has been led by youth. And the addition of indigenous peoples sends the world a dramatic message regarding who is legal on this continent.

Despite more than a dozen copycat states, those who fear a brown nation have decided to make their stand in the Arizona desert. Next year, legislators will attempt to revoke the 14th Amendment in Arizona, which guarantees citizenship to all born in this country. The state’s governor, Republican Jan Brewer, seems to share this fear. Appealing to the nation’s anti-Mexican and anti-immigrant sentiment, she has established a nationwide legal defense fund for suits over SB 1070.

Morally, Brewer — akin to George Wallace of a generation ago — is on the wrong side of history. Copyright 2010 New America Media

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