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Marches Today In Hartford, New Haven To Focus On Immigration Reform

Mark Spencer

May 01, 2010

Organizers hope that marches today in Hartford and New Haven calling for immigration reform will refocus attention in the state on the controversial issue after several years of relative quiet.

Similar events are planned in about 70 cities throughout the country, with organizers expecting large crowds motivated by anger over an Arizona law enacted April 23 that imposes the toughest restrictions in the nation on illegal immigrants.

"What's happened in Arizona is upsetting a lot of people and firing them up to be on the streets," said John Jairo Lugo, an organizer with Unidad Latina En Accion, one of the groups planning the New Haven march.

The Hartford march begins at 11 a.m. at Albany and Main streets and ends at 1 p.m. at Barnard Park at Main and Wyllys streets. The New Haven march begins at 10 a.m. at Front Street and Grand Avenue in the Fair Haven neighborhood and goes to the New Haven Green.

A coalition of immigrant rights activists, churches and labor groups is sponsoring the events. Tara Parrish, lead organizer for Hartford Areas Rally Together, said that the federal government needs to adopt immigration reform this year, including a path to legality for those in the country without documents.

Parrish said that illegal immigrants contribute to the economy, but face the fear of being deported and separated from their families.

Arizona is the latest state to impose its own immigration policies by allowing police to detain anyone they reasonably believe is in the country illegally. Supporters say it's a needed measure in the face of the country's broken immigration system, while opponents say it is unconstitutional and will lead to racial profiling.

U.S. Senate Democrats this week outlined their plans for immigration reform and said they would try to win approval this year, although many doubt that is likely.

In 2007 the last year that immigration reform had a serious chance of approval high-profile raids by federal immigration officials in Hartford and New Haven galvanized activists.

Cities in the state have reacted in various ways to the challenges of immigration. Danbury authorized two of its police officers to be trained in how to enforce immigration law.

New Haven adopted a city identity card, which it offered to all residents, regardless of their immigration status. Hartford passed an ordinance prohibiting police and other city agencies from asking a person about immigration status.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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