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Estamos Unidos makes a stop in Utah due to its law on immigration

Published May 12, 2012 11:25 pm

Immigration • Group is gathering signatures in states that have laws similar to Arizona's.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Raising awareness one person at a time.

That is what Estamos Unidos (We Are United) is seeking to do on a zig-zag tour across the United States to highlight what it says are unconstitutional immigration laws.

Sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Estamos Unidos van and a handful of volunteers are visiting 10 states that have passed immigration legislation that is similar to an Arizona statute, dubbed the "Show Me Your Papers" law.

Saturday, they stopped at the Latino Mall on Redwood Road in West Valley City.

"My whole family is here in the United States," said immigrant Miguel Rivera, 30, of West Valley City. "I have a 2-year-old daughter. I want a better life for my daughter. I want to sign the petition."

Estamos Unidos is gathering signatures to send to President Barack Obama. The petition asks him to keep states like Arizona and Utah from interfering with federal immigration law.

The ACLU and the U.S. Department of Justice have sued Arizona over the law.

"The Arizona law leads to profiling," said Kiran Savage of Estamos Unidos. "It's pretty scary."

Like Arizona's law, Utah's recently passed HB497 also would allow local law enforcement officers to request immigration papers from anyone they stop, detain or arrest.

But Utah's law is on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Arizona case, most likely sometime before the end of June.

On their cross-country tour, Estamos Unidos has spoken to people in states like Alabama, where similar laws have been passed, said Abdi Soltani, director of the ACLU of northern California.

He noted that such legislation is spawning distrust of law enforcement within the immigrant community. And that, he said, has negative impacts for everyone.

Nonetheless, Soltani remains hopeful that a majority of Americans will see such laws as an assault on the Bill of Rights.

"People of good will across the country are raising their voices against these discriminatory laws," he said.

Still, many immigrants are unaware of HB497, said Pablo Quintana, who teaches English to immigrants in West Valley City.

"Most of the Hispanic community doesn't realize what's going on," he said. "They just hear rumors here and rumors there. We need more information."

If the Utah legislation is allowed to take effect, Quintana said he fears profiling and negative results for the immigrant community.

"There is a thin line between profiling and what law enforcement should be doing," he said.

For Carlos Jaimes, who owns and operates the El Morelense café at the Latino Mall, the Arizona law and the Utah legislation are frightening immigrants and driving down the economy in the Latino community.

"People are going back to Mexico, including my employees," he said. "And it affects my sales."

Getting out information about laws like those in Arizona and the one in Utah is important, said Frank Cordba, president of Centro Civico Mexicano in Salt Lake City.

"We should be aware of the positive and negative impacts [of these laws]," he said. "Eventually, immigration affects all of us."





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