A judge's ruling may have temporarily halted the most controversial provisions of Arizona's new immigration enforcement law from taking effect, but that hasn't stopped opponents of the legislation from taking to the streets Thursday to voice their disapproval.
Several nonviolent demonstrations were planned Thursday throughout Arizona to mark the passage of the hard-fought legislation, which officially took effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, after a federal judge chose not to block the bill in its entirety Wednesday.
But U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton granted a temporary injunction against a provision of the bill that required that police question people's immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally. Bolton also blocked provisions of the law making it a crime to fail to apply for or carry alien registration papers and "authorizing the warrantless arrest of a person" if there is reason to believe that person might be subject to deportation.
Some of the first protesters already had taken to the streets by midnight. In the small community of Guadalupe, about 10 miles outside Phoenix, residents of all ages formed a human blockade of the town's main artery, preventing cars and public buses from passing.
"This is a symbolic gesture to show that we will not give our community over to the sheriff's office. For years, people in this town have been subjected to the kind of racial profiling that SB 1070 essentially gives legal sanction to, and we are not going stand by and let it happen," said Andrew Sanchez, a lifelong resident of Guadalupe and community activist who orchestrated the blockade.
Dressed in T-shirts that said, "Brown and Proud to be an American," and waving signs that read, "We will not comply," the crowd of about 50 held for about an hour until deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office showed up and asked the protesters to leave.
City officials estimate that thousands of people from outside the state will converge upon Phoenix on Thursday to protest the legislation in different venues.
At 4 a.m. PT (7 a.m. ET), protesters were set to congregate in front of the state Capitol in downtown Phoenix and march to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral for an interfaith service. Several other demonstrations also are scheduled throughout the day at locations throughout the city and elsewhere in the state.