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Activists rally Thursday near the Cranston Street Armory in Providence to protest Arizona's immigration law.


The Providence Journal / Ruben W. Perez

The demonstration at the Cranston Street Armory training grounds — like others around the country — occurred the day after a federal judge blocked the most controversial portions of the law, known as SB 1070. The remainder of the law went into effect Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton in Phoenix on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction against sections that call for officers to check a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws, and requiring immigrants to carry identification papers at all times.

“We are against the criminalization of our communities, whether they are Latino, Asian or African-American,” said Marion Cifuentes, organizer with English in Action, one of the groups supporting Thursday's rally. Cifuentes added, “We also oppose the attempt to attack the citizenship of the children of immigrants, as is happening in Arizona.”

Demonstrators — some carrying signs that said “Born and Profiled in the USA” and “Papers Don't Make a Person” — also took aim at Governor Carcieri's 2008 executive order cracking down on illegal immigration as having an effect “similar to what's going on in Arizona.”

Meanwhile, the head of the controversial Arizona-based border patrol group, the Minuteman Project, and Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement [RIILE] confirmed they are planning a joint Oct. 1 rally at the State House to push for an Arizona-style bill here.

State Rep. Peter Palumbo, who tried unsuccessfully to introduce a mirror bill of the Arizona legislation as the General Assembly session neared its close in June, has been asked to be a keynote speaker at the rally. Palumbo says he plans to reintroduce his bill in January.

Jim Gilchrist, The Minuteman Project's president, said Palumbo will be “the ‘rock star' of this event.”

Gilchrist said, “We want to use that [rally] to force the debate, five weeks preceding the election. We think that will be a good time. The primary reason is to bring awareness to the issue to New England states who are not as savvy to what's happening as we are in the Southern border states. The other is to encourage the electorate to respond to our message. We have an immigration law-enforcement problem that's got to be fixed.”

Other groups at the rally included Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), the Providence Youth and Student Movement (PrYSM), the Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA), Rhode Island Jobs with Justice, the American Friends Service Committee's Southern New England chapter, and Fuerza Laboral (Power of Workers).

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