Hundreds protest Arizona-style immigration bill

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January 27th, 2011

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Lincoln, NE – Hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Capitol Thursday against a proposed Arizona-style law aimed at illegal immigrants.

Under blue skies and sunshine, the crowd gathered in front of the brooding Abraham Lincoln statue on the Capitol’s west side. They came to protest a bill introduced by Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen that would require police to check the immigration status of people they stop, if they have reasonable suspicion those people are in the country illegally. Among those who spoke was Alexander Giblisco of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Mexican-American Student Association.

Sen. Charlie Janssen's proposed legislation is similar to Arizona's illegal immgration law. (Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature)

“I moved here in high school,” Giblisco told the crowd. “Despite limited English skills, I felt welcome by the community. I was given the opportunity to a higher education. Now, I’m a Husker.”

Gibilisco said in a later interview that while he came to the country legally, he felt a moral obligation to speak up for others. He reflected that sense of community in his remarks to the crowd.

“I had always had a sense as a Nebraskan; we’re all in this together. We all cheer for the same team,” he said. “And as a student, I feel like I need to stand up to social injustice. It would be immoral to allow this law to pass, especially in my home state.”

Other speakers argued that deputizing police to enforce immigration laws would detract from what should be their focus on crime; that the law would lead to racial profiling; and that immigration reform should be left to the federal government. But in a news conference held before the rally took place, Janssen stood firm behind his proposal.

“Unfortunately, I fear this will only be a rally that takes potshots at my bill, LB48, and other bills that I’ve ran,” he said, “and criticizes other senators who have taken a proactive role in fighting illegal immigration.”

“So what they’re actually holding today, in my opinion, is a pro-illegal immigration rally outside our state’s Capitol”.

Inside the Capitol, a public hearing on Janssen’s bill will be held March 2.

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