The Latino Generation Who Wants To Change Arizona

Until the age of 7, Alejandra Gomez did not know her father was illegal in the United States. That year, 1990, her family had to return to Mexico for the grandmother’s funeral. On the way back, before arriving at the border post in Nogales, his father was absent. “I am catching up with you”, he meant. Alejandra and her mother crossed the border, showed their papers, and settled into McDonald’s. “It wasn’t happening. ” When he finally appeared, no words were exchanged. “It was only in the car that he explained that he had to walk a long time to find a hole in the fence. “

The Gomez family lived in Pomona, California. Alejandra grew up with the anguish of seeing her father caught by the police, and tears still flow to her eyes when she talks about it. In 1994, when voters in California passed “Proposition 187,” an anti-immigrant measure that deprived illegal immigrants of social services, the family began making plans. “We talked about it constantly at the dinner table” : who to notify in case of arrest? Where to meet? Finally, the Gomez decided in 1999 to leave California. Destination: Arizona.

Alejandra Gomez, one of the founders of the Lucha movement (Living United for Change in Arizona), on October 1 in Phoenix.

The family has rebuilt its life; the father opened a small business. Alejandra, who became Alex for her friends, took over high school. A few years later, Arizona was won over by the same anti-immigrant poison. In 2010, the local assembly adopted a text that was one of the hardest in the country: SB 1070 (for senate bill number 1070). He turned the local police into auxiliaries to the federal immigration agency, allowing them to apply for a residence permit from anyone they saw as suspicious. And he was creating a new crime: not having your immigration documents with you.

Alejandra was finishing her studies in political science. She realized that there was no point in moving to a new state. She co-founded Lucha (Living United for Change in Arizona), an association that campaigns for economic and racial justice through the participation of Latinos in the electoral process (Lucha also means struggle in Spanish). Ten years later, the young woman is at the forefront of progressive combat in Arizona.

Transformed political landscape

If Arizona switches on Nov. 3 in favor of Joe Biden, Democrats will owe it to Alex Gomez and a nursery of immigrant children, awakened to politics by SB 1070. This year, the state revisited the law , for the tenth anniversary of its adoption, in April. The opportunity to measure the progress made. “Anti-immigrant laws have inspired a new generation of voters,” sums up Alex, in the garden of his pavilion in Phoenix. “Arizona experienced Trump’s policies long before Trump tried to apply them across the country,” adds Lucha co-founder Tomas Robles, a former Marine who quit his job as an accountant to enter politics in 2010.

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