Protestors in Tucson rally against SB 1611

Protestors in Tucson rally against SB 1611

CREATED Jun 30, 2011

Reporter: Steve Nunez
Web Producer: Brian Pryor, Layla Tang

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Protesters took to the streets Wednesday to rally against Arizona's latest crackdown on illegal immigration.  About 50 people marched through downtown Tucson to voice opposition to SB 1611, the massive bill making its way through the State Capitol.  The proposed legislation is expected to be even further-reaching than SB 1070.

"Why are you protesting as a non-Hispanic?" asked 9 On Your Side's Steve Nunez. 

"I'm protesting because I feel this affects everybody," said Katie Nelson.

Nadia del Callejo, who was born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents, is currently a legal citizen in the country.  If the latest wave of immigration legislation passes, she could lose the right to call herself an American citizen, at least in the state of Arizona.

"Russell Pearce wants to take that away from you, what do you say to him?" Nunez asked del Callejo. 

"To end the tyranny against communities of color," del Callejo responded.

Under the proposed Birthright bill, del Callejo would be stripped of her citizenship on the state level.  Under SB 1611 del Callejo would not be able to work, continue her college education, or even vote.

Del Callejo is also one of six protestors charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct for chaining themselves together inside the Border Patrol headquarters last May. Immigrant rights advocates marched from the downtown library to the city courthouse to voice their opposition to SB 1611 and show their support for the six protesters, who faced a judge Wednesday.

This court battle is not just about Hispanics.  Alex Soto is Native American and wants his voice to be heard.

"So far the voices of my community, the Tohono O'Odham Nation, the communities here in Tucson, are not being heard.  We're not relying on politicians.  We're relying on people because that's where the real power is at," said Soto.

Unlike the long legal battle over SB 1070, Judge Thomas Berning will not take long to determine whether or not the six protestors crossed legal boundaries.  And unlike the border, the protestors say there are no boundaries to stop them from getting arrested again.

"Protesting did not change SB 1070 or the outcome of SB 1070, why do you think now protesting will change the outcome of SB 1611 or the Birthright bill?" Nunez asked del Callejo. 

"The reality is we haven't stopped protesting.  We will continue to fight against the laws that are oppressive to immigrant and indigenous communities and that this is just a continuation of that struggle and resistance," said del Callejo.

Judge Berning will determine whether or not to dismiss the case against the protesters. Immediately after the prosecution rested its case, the defense filed a motion claiming the state incorrectly filed charges against each of the six protestors.  Judge Berning is expected to make a ruling by March 22nd.