April 28, 2010
City Hall News
by Andrew J. Hawkins
Yet another press release slamming the new immigration law signed by the Arizona governor will not be enough for a handful of New York legislators.
In two weeks, a group of Latino Assembly members, led by National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators president Felix Ortz, will travel to Arizona to join with others in rallying against the law. In addition to Ortiz, Assembly members José Rivera, Naomi Rivera, Adam Clayton Powell, Carmen Arroyo and Peter Rivera will make the trip.
Once there, Ortiz said they will chain themselves to the border fence in a show of civil disobedience. Arrests are expected, he said, but they are prepared for that.
“We’re willing to do that,” Ortiz said. “We’re willing to risk ourselves for the people of Arizona and other immigrants across the country.”
Powell, who is currently preparing a primary race against Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel, is going a step further, introducing a resolution in the Assembly that would prohibit New York from “engaging in any business with the state of Arizona until this racially discriminatory law is defeated.”
José Rivera likened the upcoming trip to one he took years ago to Puerto Rico with Rev. Al Sharpton, former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion and former Bronx Democratic boss Roberto Ramirez to protest the Navy’s use of the Vieques facility as a bombing range.
“We got arrested there. And I’m ready to do it again,” Rivera said. “This time for the rights of immigrants.”
But not all of their Latino colleagues see the point in traveling through three time zones to protest. State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., chair of the New York State Senate Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus, said that while he supports those Assembly members who will make the trip, he said his responsibility is in New York, working on passing a state budget.
“Whatever they want to do,” he shrugged. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen.”
Diaz said the problem goes beyond Arizona, stressing that the real fight will be in Washington, D.C. over immigration reform.
“Yes, Arizona is in chaos and bad,” Diaz said. “But we’ve got to stop using them as a pummeling bag.”
Adding, “Which they deserve.”