In 2010 the state of Arizona passed one of the most controversial anti-immigration laws in U.S. history, the now infamous Arizona SB 1070.
Arizona legislators who pushed the law to successful passage called it the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” However, many viewed the act as a thinly veiled attempt to persecute not just illegal immigrants, but anyone of Latino or other minority status.
Under the law, undocumented immigrants over the age of 14 were required to register with the U.S. Government after being in the country for 30 days. It also required illegal aliens over the age of 18 to carry proper identification papers – not doing so at all times is a misdemeanor crime. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia and Village Voice Media | Wikipedia
The law also empowered police to “check for documentation” during any “lawful stop,” and only if there was “reasonable suspicion” that a person might be an immigrant. It basically gave Arizona police free reign to racially profile Latino people, even if they were born and bred American citizens.
The law carried a number of other provisions that are onerous to Arizona’s considerable immigrant and legal Latino communities.
A group called Promise Arizona (most often called “Paz”) immediately began to protest SB 1070. Paz conducted a remarkable 103-day prayer vigil at the Arizona capitol building in Phoenix. The group also staged protests in Washington D.C. During one of those protests, Paz Exective Director Petra Falcón was arrested on a minor charge.
Today Paz continues its work as a faith-based organization working for a variety of human rights issues. It also promotes civic engagement, conducts voter registration drives, trains young people in leadership skills and advocates for DACA, the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program now under threat by the Trump Administration.
Paz has recently received a financial boost from the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund. This is an initiative established by two Arizona media men, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey. Read more: Michael Lacey | Twitter and Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia
Money for the Larkin and Lacey Fund was obtained after the two journalists successfully sued Arizona’s Maricopa County. They did so after then Sheriff Joe Arpaio used illegal and unconstitutional police actions to arrest Larkin and Lacey for doing nothing more than writing stories about Arpaio’s unlawful tactics against immigrants.
In 2007 a U.S. Appeals Court awarded Larkin and Lacey $3.7 million in damages. The men used the money to establish the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund, which now supports organization such as Promise Arizona, or Paz.
The leaders of Paz say they are determined to build a better future for Arizona and make it “welcoming to all people.” They work in a grassroots way going door-to-door and canvassing neighborhoods to build support for their message of positive, prayerful inclusivity for all members of society.