Rally supports rights of LBGTQ community, undocumented immigrants
BY WILLIAM BROWN —
Despite freezing temperatures and falling snow, dozens gathered at City Hall for a rally in support of Coming Out of the Shadows on March 9.
Coming Out of the Shadows started in Chicago, Ill. in 2010 with undocumented youths proclaiming their status in public.
Alexandra Samarron, a member of Arizona DREAMers in Action and one of the organizers of the rally, said her undocumented status prompted her involvement in immigration issues.
“When I graduated high school, I realized how my immigration status was going to impact my life because I really wanted to go to college but I really didn’t have the means to go to a university,” Samarron said. “So, I started my education in a community college down in Tucson and I was able to get private scholarships because that’s all I’m able to get but what mainly made me be an organizer was that I realized not only me but other students who identity as undocumented were being oppressed by the education system [and the] immigration system.”
In front of Flagstaff City Hall, not just undocumented people but homosexuals rallied in support of each other’s rights. On the Facebook page for the rally, it was described as “Undocumented Unafraid and Undocuqueer Unashamed Immigrants.”
Arianne Burford, an instructor in the women’s and gender studies program, said she thought people needed to know that both groups face hatred and the threat of violence.
“I think the most important thing is that there’s violence in the way queer people, undocumented people and queer undocumented people are seen and that people are dehumanized and treated as non-people, as aliens, as not deserving to exist, not deserving to live and not deserving to love,” Burford said.
Nina Porter, a senior chemistry and secondary education major, said she has cared about immigrant rights since she was young and is glad for the chance to become involved at NAU.
“I have the opportunity to get involved in activism to help secure the safety of those people I love and value,” Porter said. “I think that connects really obviously and clearly to me to also the queer movement, which I identify really strongly as a part of that as well. So, the unification of the two in the undocuqueer march seems like a really good place for me to be advocating for the safety and love of everyone.”
While some at the rally were not associated with any organization, Arizona DREAMers in Action, People Respecting Individuals and Sexual Minorities (PRISM), Queer and Ally Action Research Team and other groups were represented.
Anamaria Ortiz, a member of the Repeal Coalition and a local charter-school teacher, said she thinks it is important to hear from those affected most by immigration policies.
“I think it’s real important to talk to people that are actually in the community that are affected and live this on a daily basis,” Ortiz said. “If you only listen to the political rhetoric, you’re not going to get the full story. So, it’s really important to find out for yourselves by people that are truly affected, that are undocumented, that are here and want to stay here; what the actual problems are and how the community’s being affected.”
Ortiz also said while rallies of this nature carry the risk of arrest, she thought any such instance would not be justified.
“There’s always the risk and there’s always the chance that arrests can happen,” Ortiz said. “Right now and right here we are all doing what we have as our civil rights and there’s nothing that should be arrestable in this case and that is our civil right. I think if it were to come down to that we would have a system in place that we wouldn’t let that happen.”
Highlighting Ortiz’s confidence, the original plan for March 9 was for the protestors to meet at City Hall and after rallying there, they planned to march to the jail on Sawmill Road and tell their stories of being undocumented.
Samarron said one of her concerns with immigration policy is the fact that when parents of children who are citizens are deported, the children suffer.
“Even though kids are U.S. citizens, they are still being impacted by their parents’ immigration status,” Samarron said. “I know that many of the members from our group, their partners were deported so their kids have to struggle with them.”
Both Samarron’s concern and a demand posted on the Facebook site for the march show what concerns undocumented parents might have: End the expansion of detention centers and costly immigration enforcement policies, which separate families and divide communities.
Erica Aguilar, a Flagstaff resident and an undocumented member of Arizona DREAMers in Action, said Samarron’s concern was hers as well.
“I have a son that was born here and I would like for the reform to follow along, follow through and I would actually like to stay here and be with my son.”
Aguilar also said those who are undocumented deserve to be treated like anybody else.
“We’re here and we’re not criminals,” Aguilar said. “We’re fighting for our rights like anybody else.”
Samarron said the undocumented community is well-established here in Arizona and through the country and is proud of who they are.
“We are here and we deserve to be in this country and we deserve to be treated, like I said, with respect and dignity and we are tired as a community,” Samarron said. “We are ready to go out, we’re not afraid anymore we’re ready to be out, be undocumented and be proud of our stories, be proud of the undocumented experience. Whatever is oppressing our community, we are going to fight; we’re going to fight until we are free in this country.”