As Governor Jan Brewer addressed the Arizona Legislature in her state of the state speech Monday, protesters took over the state House lobby, demanding that Brewer rescind an executive order denying driver's licenses to Arizona DREAMers who qualify for President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Led by Citizens for a Better Arizona's President Randy Parraz and DREAM Activist Erika Andiola, whose mother narrowly avoided deportation last week, a group of about 100 demonstrators crowded the narrow lobby of the Arizona House. They prayed, chanted, and sang until ordered out by Arizona Department of Public Safety officers.
Three protesters were arrested as several DPS officers in their Smokey-the-Bear hats moved the crowd toward the door. Veteran activists Chimene Hawes, Sheila Ryan, and Saul Solis were handcuffed, taken into custody, then cited for trespassing and released.
Earlier, during the hubbub, activists dropped a banner from a second floor balcony that read, "Brewer, Let Dreamers Drive!"
Reverend Eve Nunez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference led the group in prayer. A few months back, Nunez delivered more than 7,000 signatures to Governor Brewer's office, asking that Brewer reverse her discriminatory policy.
"I want to pray, and I also want to tell our governor that the word of god says that we are to treat immigrants as our own people, and we are not to oppress them," told the assembled. "So I'm asking Jan Brewer to read Leviticus...19:33, and 34, what it says about how we should treat our DREAMers."
In case you haven't made it to Sunday school recently, the passage reads:
"When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God."
Sadly, I don't figure Brewer to be a big reader, much less a frequent peruser of the Good Book.
Her actions certainly run counter to the Bible when it comes to the DREAMers, who were brought here when they were kids, and are generally law-abiding, or they wouldn't qualify for DACA.
In August, on the first day the government began taking DACA applications, Brewer cemented her reputation as a heartless witch by signing Executive Order 2012-06, which blocks successful DACA applicants from obtaining a license to drive in the state of Arizona.
The mean-spirited and blatantly prejudiced decree creates a new category just for DACA recipients, who may remain in the country for a renewable two year period, and may apply for and receive a Social Security Number and federal employment documents, if they qualify.
Currently, the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division allows noncitizens who have deferred status and federal work authorization to obtain driver's licenses.
Unless, pursuant to Brewer's asinine order, they are beneficiaries of DACA.
Which is why the ACLU of Arizona is suing Brewer in federal court, arguing that Brewer's order violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution and discriminates against these young men and women, trampling the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equality under the law.
Following Rev. Nunez's prayer, spirited members of CBA, the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and the Unitarian Universalist movement began crooning their version of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," re-titled "Lean on Brewer," with lyrics like the following:
We call on ya Brewer, 'cause we need a hand. We all need a LICENSE to DREAM on. We just have this little problem, now you understand. We all need a LICENSE to DREAM on.
The activists were asked to put a lid on it, but when the spirit moves you, ya gotta sing. So they continued.
Their repeated requests ignored, DPS officers began slowly pushing the crowd back. This ended with the three arrests.
Prior to Parraz's leading the demonstrators into the state House to raise a little Cain, there was some head-bumpin' with the nativist haters, who interrupted Parraz and Erika Andiola's remarks with loud, obnoxious chants of "SB 1070."
The loudest and most obnoxious of the nativists was Art Olivas, a diminutive anti-Hispanic-Hispanic who loves being the token Latino in the nativist camp.
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(Ironically, Olivas doesn't even know that his Anglo pals dis him behind his back, and make comments about his mental stability. Heck, they've even made them to me, and I'm hardly on their side.)
Nearby, a handful of teabagger counter-protesters stood outside the state House, holding a huge banner that stated, "Stop Socialism."
What does "socialism" have to do with law-abiding 20-somethings being able to get a driver's license from the state they live in and pay taxes in?
Um, nothing. But then, when have these hillbillies ever made sense?