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Occupy SLC joins Dream Team in march against HB497

Published October 22, 2011 5:43 pm

Anti-Wall Street group's participation may be indicative of its expanding focus and more frequent protests.
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A vocal contingent of Occupy SLC demonstrators joined an immigration march sponsored by the Salt Lake Dream Team Saturday to buttress support for a lawsuit that aims to halt HB497, Utah's enforcement-only immigration law.

The Dream Team — most of whom are Latino — are part of the "99 percent" of Americans who have no say in U.S. politics, according to Occupy SLC, which set up camp Oct. 6 in Salt Lake City's Pioneer Park in solidarity with a nationwide movement that decries corporate greed and undue political influence by the wealthy.

Saturday's joint march by about 100 people signified a united front against the divisive nature of politics in Utah and the United States, said Isaac Hoppe, 31, an Occupy SLC demonstrator.

Occupy SLC's General Assembly on Thursday voted to march with the Dream Team, said Justin Kramer, 27, a demonstrator who identified himself as a descendent of migrant workers.

There is a link, he said, between private interests, corporations, lobbyists, governments and what he called anti-immigrant laws such as HB497.

Participation by Occupy SLC also represented what can be considered a new focus by the group to move beyond camping in Pioneer Park to hold more frequent protests outside the Salt Lake City Federal Reserve building and at other venues. A press release issued Saturday news the group referred to the Federal Reserve protests as the "first additional front" for Occupy SLC.

Successfully sponsored by Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, HB497 requires people who are arrested for serious crimes — defined as all felonies and some types of misdemeanors — to prove their citizenship. The law also gives law enforcement officers the right to check the citizenship of people in certain situations.

But it was in effect for less than 24 hours in May, a Utah federal judge issued a restraining order blocking the law from implementation. Plaintiffs including the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Center challenged the law's constitutionality, alleging it infringes on the federal government's authority to enforce immigration law. They also claim the bill encourages racial profiling and violates the civil rights of undocumented immigrants and citizens as well.

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff asked for a delay of a hearing on the lawsuit until Dec. 2 while he negotiates with federal prosecutors who have said they, too, are considering litigation over HB497.

The Salt Lake Dream Team, a nonprofit organization made up of undocumented students and their allies, formed in 2010 as a grass-roots effort to raise awareness and support in Utah for the Dream Act.

The act, which has not passed, would provide conditional residency to certain undocumented students who complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning. President Barack Obama supports it.

Activists at Saturday's rally and march wore shirts that read, "I Could Be Illegal" and held colorful signs with slogans such as "Education, Not Deportation" and "Undocumented and Unafraid."

One sign read, "We Are the 99 Percent." The other side held the text to the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

Camille Ibanez, a Lindon 16-year-old who is part of the Dream Team, said the march aimed to "get the ball rolling" for future protests against what she called anti-immigration laws.

The march also was designed to "pretty much alarm the Hispanic community," said 23-year-old Eduardo Aguilar of Salt Lake City. Much of the community, he said, doesn't know about bills such as HB497 that he fears are racially motivated and would deprive people of their civil rights.

Sandstrom did not immediately return a phone call Saturday, but HB497 supporters claim the federal government has abdicated its responsibility to address immigration reform, leaving the states to act.


Twitter: @davidburger






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