DALLAS - A group of over two dozen North Texas activists headed off to Arizona Thursday morning.
Boarding a "freedom bus," members of the League of United Latin Americans Citizens (LULAC) were traveling to Arizona to protest the controversial new immigration law in Arizona. The bus left from Dallas at 7:30 a.m. with its final destination in Phoenix Saturday.
The trip is organized by the Megamarch Committee, the same group that held a march through downtown Dallas on May 1 to promote an immigration reform bill that would legalize millions of undocumented workers and their families. Committee members said they want to show support and lend expertise to Latino activists in Arizona.
The newly passed law allows police to question those suspected of being in the country illegally.
"So, yea, they committed a crime," said Domingo Garcia, an attorney and president of LULAC. "Let's make them pay a fine; let's make them get in line. Let's make them learn English, but let them have an opportunity for the American dream."
Critics of the law say it will lead to racial profiling, while advocates say it's necessary because the federal government has failed to stop illegal immigration.
"We have a responsibility to continue our struggle for justice for everybody, so what threatens our brown brothers and sisters is also a concern for us," said the Rev. Peter Johnson, who was boarding a charter bus in Oak Cliff early Thursday.
LULAC members said they want comprehensive immigration reform, which would allow long-time illegal immigrants to be granted a legal status among other things.
The North Texas bus riders, including both immigrants and American-born citizens, were to hook up with immigration-rights activists in El Paso and Las Cruces, N.M. Organizers say they will drive in a caravan to Nogales, Ariz., where a demonstration is scheduled Friday on the international bridge leading into Nogales, Mexico. The group, which says all of its demonstrations will be peaceful, returns Sunday.
"I'm first-generation but the rest of my family is from Mexico, so I want to help them," said Raul Garcia, a Dallas painting contractor who carried a poster of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a revered religious symbol for Mexican Catholics, in a stylized pose reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty.
The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report