Silent vigil in downtown Greensboro highlights opposition to Arizona immigration law

by Jordan Green

The demonstrators lining the 300 block of South Elm Street in Greensboro on May 1 may have been silent, but their signs and their presence spoke volumes: “We are also human,” “No human being is illegal,” “Greensboro support immigrant rights; immigration reform now,” and one representing the Service Employees International Union that said, “We work for America.”

About 200 people turned out for the silent vigil, many of them people who live and work in the shadows of the economy, and who feel directly affected by local enforcement programs such as 287(g) and the state of Arizona’s new law giving police the authority to question immigration status based on reasonable suspicion.

“The reason that’s very important for immigration reform and the problem in Arizona,” said Lizet Torres, a 27-year-old office and house cleaner in Greensboro who is from Mexico City, explaining her reasons for demonstrating through a translator. “I think that’s bad because it’s discrimination. I think it makes you feel like a prisoner.”

Asked what she would like to see come out of immigration reform, Torres said, “I would like everything to get better for families, that they quit separating families so that there can be calm and peace. We don’t want to live with fear.”

Torres said she has been living and working in the United States under a six-year visa, which expires in October. She plans to return to Mexico City at that time with her 5-year-old daughter, who is a naturalized American citizen. Torres wants to come back to the United States to work, but said she has no idea how long it will take for a new visa to be approved.

“I would like for all of us to be citizens because that would help the economy of this country,” Torres said. “We’re supporting the economy now, but we would like to do it more. We should stop the deportations, which are completely unnecessary.”

Carlos Orozco (holding “We are also human” sign), Liz Ignelzi and Julio Alvarenga were among roughly 200 people who demonstrated in downtown Greensboro on May 1 for immigration reform and against a new Arizona law signed by Gov. Jan Brewer a week earlier. (photo by Jordan Green).