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Legislation to repeal SB 1070 triggers protests at the State Capitol

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PHOENIX – Holding a red, white and blue sign that read “Freedom is not free,” Teddy Thompson said Arizona needs to maintain its tough stand against illegal immigration through SB 1070.

“I’m doing this for my grandchildren because I don’t like where the United States is going,” she said, standing on the lawn outside the State Capitol.

Nearby, Jaime Esquvel carried a sign that read “SB 1070 Economic Disaster.”

“Businesses have left the state, and good families are suffering,” he said. “Arizona needs workers.”

It was like old times Monday when about 100 protesters descended on state Sen. Steve Gallardo’s news conference announcing legislation to repeal SB 1070. The Capitol saw protests almost daily as the measure was on its way to becoming law in 2010.

The crowd appeared to be almost evenly split, with SB 1070 supporters and opponents arguing and hoisting signs with messages such as “Stop the raids! No more deportations!” and “Secure our borders now.”

There were no arrests.

Elisa Zanella, who supports SB 1070, said she and her family left Canada in the 1980s when its political climate became too liberal for her. She said efforts to repeal the law are part of a “liberal indoctrination” that citizens should oppose.

“In Canada people just went along with their government,” Zanella said. “But sometimes you have to raise your voice.”

Anita Smith, who was with Zanella, said her message to those against SB 1070 is simple: “Love America or leave,” she said.

Gail Shoultes argued that many GOP supporters of SB 1070 do so out of party loyalty rather than agreeing with its provisions.

“It’s important to repeal this because it encourages hate,” she said.

Manuel Martinez, carrying a sign that read “Repeal SB 1070, it’s hate,” said he has been in Arizona since 1990 but now faces deportation back to Mexico.

“This affects everyone, no matter what race, and it needs to end now,” he said.