Culture News

7 Things Arizona Learned from Fighting SB 1070 That We Can Use Against Trump

A sign spotted at the Women's March on Washington.
A sign spotted at the Women's March on Washington. Evie Carpenter
For those of us living in Arizona – a place many call a laboratory of anti-immigrant legislation – Trump’s executive actions are eerily reminiscent of life during the SB 1070 fiasco. There is widespread fear, confusion, calls to action, and steps for legal protection. But instead of our state of only 6 million-plus going through this together, now we are 320 million Americans.

Last week, during the first suite of President Donald Trump's directives, my cellphone started flashing with calls and text messages. First, it was family, asking if I’d seen what the president had declared against immigrants, against Muslims, against the efforts of the Standing Rock water protectors. Then it was friends starting to offer help, and ask about organizations doing good work and where they could go protest and donate.


The moment reminded me of 2010, when then-Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, a bill that allowed Arizona police agencies to ask for people’s immigration status based on “probable cause” (meaning potentially the color of our skin, the car we drove, or the neighborhood we lived in). It was a moment that defined our state’s history, our evolution as peoples of the Southwest, our understanding of what it means to be Arizonan.

As an organizer, I immediately tried to transform fear into rage, rage into action. Last weekend, as people took their rage to airports, I was reminded of how within hours of Brewer signing SB 1070, many rushed to the State Capitol to voice their anger, their fear, their willingness to help.


We Arizonans have a step up on the resistance movement. Here are seven things we learned from fighting SB 1070 that we can use going forward.

click to enlarge The protest was peaceful and full of passion. - MELISSA FOSSUM
The protest was peaceful and full of passion.
Melissa Fossum
Have a Disciplined, Consistent Message
At the moment that SB 1070 became law, fear exploded. Many undocumented people were afraid of living a normal life, of simple tasks like going to work or going to the store. Schools reported high absenteeism all across the state, and crooks took advantage of the confusion and offered “legal protections” that didn’t exist. And while community organizations didn’t fully agree on every word of the messaging, there was a disciplined and focused message trying to address the fear many community members felt. It was simple, actionable, and easy to understand. Don’t overreact. Make sure you know your rights, which can protect you from deportation. Make a plan with your friends and loved ones in case you are detained. If you are a U.S. resident or citizen and you are a victim of racial profiling, report it, and help build a case against this law.

click to enlarge Mayra Alvarado (left) and Estrellita Alvarado protest at the Women's March on Phoenix. - MARIA ESQUINCA
Mayra Alvarado (left) and Estrellita Alvarado protest at the Women's March on Phoenix.
Maria Esquinca
Build Solidarity
One of the most powerful activities, that wasn't always recognized as such, was to organize community forums, or “foros” as they are called. These events were led by organizations, lawyers, consulates, faith groups, and schools in every corner of the state. There were massive ones with more than 1,000 people, small ones at churches, meetings like Head Start, and ones at coffee shops and Zumba classes. But the power of these informational meetings was the opportunity for people to see others in the struggle, to feel kinship and community, and see that they too had power to inform others, to show up and raise their voice and share their story.

All Tactics Are Game
There was a lot of discussion of what was strategic and what wasn’t. There were long and painful meetings where ideas were discussed, marches, strikes, direct action, and vigils. All those protest activities actually happened. Some of them were more successful than others, but they all played a role in giving an opportunity to new people to get involved. All tactics had a role and an impact, and they should never be shunned as ineffective. All tactics are good tactics when we are trying to figure out our target.

Read on for more ways to resist Trump, inspired by protesting SB 1070.
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