Yesterday dozens rallied outside the Arizona State Capitol in a push to bring back the 18-year-old honor student who was all set to begin classes at Arizona State before being thrown out of the country to which her parents had brought her when she was only three.
The rally was marred by a group of bigots who shouted inane comments about just about everything including the war in Iraq. The bigots were mostly middle aged and white. Big surprise, huh?
A witness report on the Phoenix New Times Blog went like this:
One handlebar mustachioed dood (sic) I approached smelled heavily of beer, and threatened to turn violent until a plainclothes cop warned him that if he kept "bumping" into people, he would be arrested. You could feel the hatred, the prejudice and fanaticism oozing out of the man's pores. Why, I wondered? How could anyone bring themselves to hate 18-year-old Virginia? A hard-working, meek individual if there ever was one. A young woman with a 4.2 GPA, and scholarships to attend ASU this fall.
Never has the meanness and spite of the anti-immigrant crowd been more blatant than in their response to Virginia Gutierrez's situation. The irony is that these self-described "patriots" in fact represent the worst America has to offer -- the angry, rabid rabble of redneck U.S.A. But Virginia, though undocumented, represents all of the best values of the American dream: hard work, education, self-sacrifice, and self-improvement. And I suspect the nativists hate her even more for it.
I think that about says it all.
The following is from KTAR (Phoenix).
Protesters Disrupt Rally in Support of Deported Teen
Protesters disrupted a small rally at the state capitol supporting a deported North High School graduate.
One week before she was set to begin classes at Arizona State University, Virginia Gutierrez was pulled over by police for a headlight infraction. The traffic stop touched off a series of events that led to her deportation.
While in custody, Gutierrez signed a voluntary deportation document, but friends say she had no legal representation and was under duress.
Gutierrez, who has lived in the U.S. for most of her life, has not been heard from since federal authorities dropped her off on a street corner in Nogales. Her family remains here, afraid to come forward because of their immigration status.
"Nogales isn't really a place for a young lady. It's dangerous. It's a border city," said Esmeralda Hermosillo, Gutierrez's best friend.
Gutierrez came to the U.S. as a young child with her illegal immigrant parents. She's an honor student, with scholarships to attend ASU this fall. But last month she was deported to Mexico.
The Reverend Brad Wishon says that's wrong. "We can talk about immigration policy all we want, but every time we forget there are people connected to those policies, I think we lose a little bit of our humanity."
"This is about passing things like the Dream Act that Senator McCain sponsored," Wishon says. "She would not be in this situation if the Dream Act had been acted on."
Joshua Darland wonders what her deportation says about this country. "That we think it's OK to use our tax dollars to inhumanely drop off a young woman on a street corner in Nogales without any consideration to her health and well-being."
The small rally was disrupted by hecklers.
"Virginia is at home where she belongs. That's good. Virginia enjoy your country," says Heckler.
Across the street, a sign on a truck, blaming Virginia's illegal immigrant parents for making her a criminal.
Many counter-protestors shared the perspective of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens founder Michelle Dallacroce.
"Illegal is illegal," said Dallacroce, whose organization is now 10,000 strong.
"They're misplacing their values. Their values should be on the rule of law. And in America, the rule of law is that if you're illegally in this country, you should be deported. Period," Dallacroce said.
Gutierrez's friends said their hope was to obtain a student visa for the would-be university freshman, but they said even that was a long shot.