Before chaining themselves to the doors of the State Capitol on Tuesday, nine college students — seven of them from ASU — knew their actions would likely lead them to a jail cell down the road.
Now dubbed by community members the “Capitol Nine” and “SB 1070 Nine,” the students were part of a group of protesters arrested as they expressed opposition to the state’s latest immigration bill.
SB 1070 passed the Senate Monday in a 17-11 vote and is now awaiting the governor’s signature.
The legislation would make illegal immigration a state crime. According to an Arizona House of Representatives fact sheet, it would also allow officials and agencies to “reasonably attempt to determine” a person’s immigration status and also require police to report to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement whenever an illegal immigrant breaks the law.
“I think it’s a bill that will
automatically set up the state of Arizona for apartheid — more segregated than it already is,” said political science senior Bryant Partida, who attended a Tuesday evening rally in support of the arrested students. “[It’s] a push for a high-intensity police state, which will definitely cause more fear in our communities.”
Gov. Jan Brewer can either sign the bill, veto it or let it become law without her signature, which will happen if she makes no action by Saturday.
A group of community members and students, many of them from ASU, gathered outside the jail, holding signs and candles in a show of support.
“We’re gathered here because we’re forming solidarity,” said Sandra Castro, a history senior. “We have a mass presence of students rather than community organizers.”
Castro said the students’ action was deliberately intended to get the attention of state lawmakers and the governor.
“They’re not doing their job because they’re supposed to be paying attention to us,” Castro said. “All the students [against the bill] have been flooding Jan Brewer’s phone for the past two weeks.”
The ASU students arrested included four seniors, two juniors and a graduate student. The other two arrestees were from community colleges.
Candelaria Montes de Oca, the sister of arrestee Gregorio Montes de Oca, a political science senior, said she was proud of her brother and the rest of the students.
“They were there for a good cause,” said Candelaria, a social work sophomore. “We all just wanted to veto SB 1070.”
Alma Montes de Oca, the older sister of Gregorio, said her brother wanted to give a voice to the illegal immigrants.
“He felt it was his duty as a student to work in a nonviolent way to bring about change for all of those students who don’t have the ability to speak their opinions,” she said.
The other ASU students arrested were justice studies junior Daisy Cruz, social work senior Ernesto Lopez, journalism junior Justine Garcia, political science senior Ruben Lucio Palomares, social work senior David Anthony Portugal and graduate student Faviola Augustin. Armando Rios from South Mountain Community College and Leilani Clark from Pima Community College in Tucson were also arrested.
Cruz was released at around 9:30 p.m. after her parents posted bail. The rest of the arrested students remained in jail at the time of publication.
Attorney Antonio Bustamante said the nine students would likely be charged with misdemeanor for disorderly conduct.
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