A crowd of approximately 500 people, overwhelmingly Latino, rallied against Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law in Salt Lake City on May 1st, 2010, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could have had a field day, if we had given them permission. The "Dignity Rally" at Salt Lake City's Centro Civico Mexicano, 155 S. 600 West, was a show of solidarity for the 500 or so who attended. They carried signs in support of national immigration reform and chanted "¡Sí se puede!" or "Yes we can!" One patriot who showed up in opposition, Thomas Williams of Vernal, was mobbed by the crowd with competing signs and catcalls; when it started getting uglier security people escorted him out. Media stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret News, KSTU Channel 13, and KSL Channel 5. KSL news video embedded below:
The gathering was one of about 70 May Day rallies and marches that took place across the country Saturday as part of the National Day of Action for Latinos, according to Latino gadfly Tony Yapias, who organized the Utah event. "The federal government has addressed health care reform and financial reform. Now we want comprehensive immigration reform," he said, adding that the passage of the Arizona law has just intensified things. Yapias estimates there are 100,000 illegal aliens in Utah. The Arizona law, originally known as SB 1070, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. It allows police to question people who they suspect are not citizens about their status and to ask to see documents. Critics claim the law will lead to racial profiling and are calling for boycotts of the state.
In response to the profiling concern, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has since signed a modified version of the law, HB 2162, which bars race from being considered when deciding whether to inquire about a person's status, "except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution." The bill also clarifies that law-enforcement officers shall inquire about the immigration status only of those they "stop, detain or arrest"; in contrast, the earlier bill simply said "contact." This change effectively bars a cop from stopping someone simply because he "looks like an illegal immigrant". The cop will have to observe another violation of the law first before making the stop. After making the stop for another reason, the cop is then authorized to enquire into the immigration status of the detainee.
But the Latino activists are in the minority. A recent Dan Jones poll indicates 65 percent of Utah respondents approve of Arizona's law in one way or another. In response, Rep. Stephen Sandstrom (R-Orem) expressed his intent to write a similar law. Sandstrom points out that any marginal "economic benefit" conferred by illegals is far outweighed by the burden they place on schools, welfare and law enforcement. Sandstrom also noted that when Arizona, in the past, has cracked down on illegal immigration, Utah has been the destination of choice for them. Since Sandstrom is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Tony Yapias tried to psychologically disarm him by playing the "Mormon" card, saying that as an LDS member who went on a mission to Venezuela, Sandstrom should have more "compassion".
The LDS Church has taken no official position on the Arizona bill. The LDS Church believes it should not be in the immigration enforcement business, so they do not disqualify someone from being called on a mission simply because he's undocumented. It is rumored that as many as one-third of the members of Spanish-speaking LDS congregations in Utah are illegals, to include bishops and stake presidents.