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Utah rally for immigrant rights protests Republican legislation

By Gregory Lucero |
March 8, 2011
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Utah protest for immigrant rights
Utah protest for immigrant rights (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Salt Lake City, UT - More than 1000 people gathered here, March 5 to fight for immigrant rights. United for Social Justice called for the rally and protest march in response to the many repressive bills attacking immigrants that have been proposed by Utah lawmakers.

Protesters specifically targeted Utah State Representative Stephen Sandstorm’s House Bill 497 that would open the door for Arizona-style police checks of people’s immigration status. In addition to racially profiling Chicanos, Mexicans and other Latinos, it would waste tax money and police time. The marchers also targeted other bills such as HB 116, which authorizes a guest worker program, and HB 191, which would make it more difficult for undocumented students to get in-state college tuition. The Republican super-majority in the legislature is likely to pass most of these bills.

Participants demanded an end to laws that criminalize their communities and turn undocumented workers into second-class citizens. Protesters demanded full amnesty for all undocumented people.

“Don’t let Utah become Arizona” appeared on signs and in speeches as the theme of the rally. Immigrant rights leaders are fully aware of the negative economic impact and harm to jobs that the Arizona laws are causing in that state. The speakers for the rally included students, a local church pastor and the extraordinarily popular former mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson.

The protesters marched on the on the Utah State Capitol chanting “Si, se puede!” “Education not deportation!” and “Shame on Sandstrom!”

Melodía Gutiérrez of the Revolutionary Students Union at the University of Utah expressed the view of the millions who joined the immigrant rights mega-marches just a few years ago, saying, “The right to life, liberty and happiness should not be a copyrighted American dream but a human right.”

Mark Alvarez of United for Social Justice summed up the feelings of many in the rally, “Shame on Utah legislators who reduced human beings to mere economic actors. Shame on Utah legislators who pit documented workers against undocumented workers. Celebrate people who speak with an accent. Celebrate workers.”

With May 1 fast approaching, students and immigrant rights activists are planning more protests and marches against repressive legislation in state capitols across the country.