'A devastating blow'; Local activists blast Senate's immigration reform bill
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Jun. 27, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Sweeping immigration reform flew through the US Senate Thursday.
The bill passed with 68 votes, including those of 14 republicans.
But not everyone is so happy about it, especially here in southeastern Arizona.
Cheers on Capitol Hill translated to protests in Old Pueblo.
"What came out of the Senate today is a step backwards!" yelled one protestor.
Several local immigration rights groups came together at Tucson's federal courthouse Thursday evening to protest what they call a 'blatant militarization' of our border.
"It creates a dynamic that underminds the public's trust," said Juanita Molina, executive director of Border Action Network.
Advocates argue the bill's plan to double the number of Border Patrol agents, making for a grand total of 40,000, will ruin the department's image in border communities.
They also worry it will cause a spike in deaths, as immigrants search the scorching desert for unmanned spots to cross.
"It's a devastating blow for us especially as we continue to try and improve relationships between local law enforcement, the department of homeland security officials and local residents," said Sarah Launius, spokesperson for 'No More Deaths'.
Not so, say supporters of the surge, who champion the bill's bipartisan support.
"There are several republicans who for a variety of reasons did not vote for this legislation who are supportive of it so the actual support is even greater than 68," said US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) following Thursday's vote.
His is a sentiment somewhat shared by Governor Jan Brewer who, earlier this week, called the bill "work in progress," adding, "My citizens demand a secure border, and I demand a secure border. It's as simple as that."
But those are points that do little to calm the fears of those who worry border cities will soon be under siege.
This bill anything but set in stone.
Now, it heads to the GOP controlled house.
Analysts say, if and when this legislation makes it out of there, it could be unrecognizable.