Members of the Central Valley took part in a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon last week to discuss a number of issues including Arizona’s newly passed immigration law, Senate Bill 1070.
The meeting is a biannual event that involves the president meeting with members of Institute for Mexicans Abroad.
While the meeting was meant to discuss a variety of issues, Alfredo Cuellar, an associate professor at the Kremen School of Education and Human Development who attended the meeting, said Arizona’s immigration law took up a majority of the four-hour meeting.
“It was an overwhelming topic,” Cuellar said.
Cuellar said the members and the president came up with a plan condemning the state of Arizona. Part of this plan includes boycotting Arizona’s professional sports teams and US Airways, which is based out of Tempe, Arizona.
The meeting also came up with a plan that was aimed at Arizona’s political leaders.
“We are actively talking to leaders to turn their backs against the governor in the next election,” Cuellar said. “We are encouraging Mexicans to leave the state, calling to stop tourism.”
Cuellar said that while Arizona is the main point of concern, there are currently seven other states that are considering similar laws.
“Arizona was just in the right place at the right time,” Cuellar said. “This is very devastating news.”
Cuellar said President Calderon wants to take a very active role in working against the law. He said that while this law will trigger more support for a comprehensive immigration reform, Calderon has been waiting for President Obama to do just that since he took office.
“The president of Mexico gave a very strong message condemning this notion,” Cuellar said. “He cannot cross his arms and just wait for that.”
Jose Antonio Ramirez, city manager for the city of Firebaugh, was another member who attended the meeting with the president.
Ramirez said he has been following the different phases of the law. He said he was shocked when it was considered, and even more shocked when the governor signed it into law.
“I don’t care what race you are,” Ramirez said. “I don’t have to be Mexican to say ‘you can’t do that.’”
Ramirez and Cuellar both expressed how participants in the meeting acknowledged that much of Arizona’s history is rich in Mexican culture.
“It’s been built on immigrant labor,” Ramirez said. “They think ‘they have weak minds and strong backs.’”
Carlos Perez, associate professor for the Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies, referenced to past events that have been discriminatory to Mexicans.
“Remember that Mexicans and their U.S. citizen children were also hounded by U.S. authorities during the massive deportations of the 1930s,” Perez said. “These deportations stemmed from anti-Mexican immigrant sentiment during the 1920s and the Great Depression turned these sentiments into actions.”
Like Cuellar, Perez knows that this could push other states to pass similar laws, but that there are also a lot of people in Arizona that oppose the law.
The emotions and outcry against the law can even be heard on the Fresno State campus.
Jordan Fowler, the former president of United Fresno State, said there is a need for students and local citizens to speak out against laws even if they are not directly affected by them.
“I think that it is important for Fresno State students to stand up for what they believe in,” Fowler said. “Although it may not affect us directly, it may have repercussions on international relations between America and Mexico in the future.”
She also acknowledged that these laws can create issues that can affect people locally.
“Fresno State has a large Mexican demographic as well, so issues that affect Mexican immigrants may be affecting students indirectly through family members and friends,” Fowler said.