Immigration protesters take to L.A.

Updated: May 31, 2010, 11:55 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- About 150 protesters attended a rally against Arizona's tough new crackdown on illegal immigration in front of Dodger Stadium on Monday during a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Dodgers.

The picketers gathered outside stadium entrances and held signs protesting the new Arizona law, which would require police to ask about people's immigration status if they have "reasonable suspicion" that they're in the country illegally.

Protesters also said they wanted the Dodgers to move their spring training facility out of Arizona and for Major League Baseball to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of the state.

"It's important for the Dodgers to take a stand," said Mike Chavez, spokesman for Service Employees International Union, which helped organize the protest. "They have a history of standing up against discrimination and we're asking them to do something to show some leadership."

Before the game, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said, "A stand against what? Letting this club into town? Talk to the people higher up."

Arizona's new law is set to take effect July 29. Police conducting traffic stops or questioning people about possible legal violations must ask about their immigration status if they suspect they are in the country illegally.

"I didn't know the [Diamondbacks] ballclub voted for it," Torre said. "Just because they have Arizona [on their jerseys] doesn't mean that those are the people you should dislike for passing this law. I don't like to tell people how to think, but I think it's sort of misguided as far as protesting that these guys are in town."

Critics say the law would unfairly target Hispanics and could lead to racial profiling. Supporters, however, say Arizona is trying to enforce immigration laws because the federal government has failed to do so.

The law has sparked protests and calls for boycotts of Arizona products, including a recent call to move next year's All-Star Game from Phoenix.

"This protest is to inform the actual people going in there," said rally spokesman John Morales, who helped organize the protest with immigrant rights groups Presente.org and Boycott Arizona. "We want to make the connection that politics is very much involved in sports."

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he wouldn't participate if the All-Star game remains in Arizona. The Major League Baseball Players Association have condemned the law and Rep. Jose Serrano, a New York Democrat whose district includes Yankee Stadium, also asked for the game to be moved.

Earlier this month, however, baseball commissioner Bud Selig ignored those calls and defended baseball's minority hiring record.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press