Unite AZ Campaign

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Daniel Ortega, valley attorney and chairman of National Council of La Raza, talks about the white ribbon campaign for All-Star Game week. Immigration rights groups are asking baseball fans and supporters to wear white ribbons in support of federal immigration reform.


Richard Ruelas: Thank you for joining us. I'm Richard Ruelas, in tonight for José Cárdenas. The Major League Baseball All-Star game will be played in Phoenix in less than two weeks. An immigrants rights group wants valley residents and baseball fans to show their support for federal immigration reform by wearing white ribbons during all-star game week. With me to talk about this campaign and the message the group wants to send is Danny Ortega, a valley attorney and chairman of the national council of La Raza, NCLR, chair. Tell us the thoughts behind the campaign and what it will say to the nation.

Daniel Ortega: We should start with the fact that many civil rights organizations throughout the country had urged commissioner Bud Selig to withdraw the game in Phoenix in light of the draconian legislation that had been passed, primarily S.B. 1070, by the state legislature and signed by the governor. Mr. Selig, never responded to the request and to this date has not made any comment what was asked him to do. I think what's important about this, when you consider baseball and civil rights have such a close connection, especially whether when you consider Jackie Robinson and that one game where he came out and finally broke the color barrier and the number of people of color that have played the game. When you look at baseball today, and look at Latino community and African American community and people from around the world, as well as people from America and think about civil rights and how it's worked for baseball. So we thought it natural, that bud Selig would take a stand on this. He didn't. We're have this game, we're having this game. We've done -- we'd like to take a more positive approach and this will be to unify Arizonan, against the draconian type of legislation like S.B. 1070, number one, and begin a more civil discussion about immigration reform.

Richard Ruelas: Is the thought as cameras are here, media attention focuses and they pan fans at the home run derby or fan fest, they'll see people with the white ribbon as someone will have the curiosity what is that ribbon about?

Daniel Ortega: Everyone around the country asks. What's going on in Arizona? Well, the all-star baseball game is going on in Arizona and the question is still going to be asked, because we're known as ground zero for draconian legislation and we'd like to respond by saying those of you wearing white ribbon and including the player, and we're asking many to wear the ribbons, to stand up against the kind of legislation that could violate the civil rights of the Latino community particularly here in the state and number two, begin a civil discussion on it.

Richard Ruelas: Have you heard feedback as to whether players will be allowed to wear the ribbon or have the desire to wear the ribbon?

Daniel Ortega: We think it will happen in large part because we have players who actually spoke out against 1070 in the beginning, but those have not been confirmed. I want to be honest about it. Somos America, who is promoting the white ribbon speaking out for comprehensive immigration reform, speaks against this hate legislation and let's talk about the greatest of Arizona, there's a positive message. Even though we've had this reputation lately of being anti-immigrant and anti-Latino, there's a lot of good things, a lot of good people in this state and it's important for us to give that message also.

Richard Ruelas: S.B. 1070, largely placed on hold because of a court order, of course, it were the law, would your protests have taken a less positive approach, say? Would you envision --

Daniel Ortega: It's hard to say what we would have done --

Richard Ruelas: But is the reason you're doing a positive approach with the ribbon is promote comprehensive immigration reform, not necessarily protest something.

Daniel Ortega: No, I think it's two things. First of all, to talk about having a civil discussion over immigration reform. And promoting immigration reform. And second, to speak out against this draconian legislation that's hate-based. There's another grouped called against the DAVADIOS, discussing the continuation of a boycott and the possibility -- not the possibility, discussing their plans for loud, bull-horn fueled -- outside of the game. Does a protest outside of the ballpark have a place?

Richard Ruelas: What's great about America is that we all have the right to voice our opinions in a -- we have the right to voice our opinions in a different way. They believe what they do is the right thing to do and I'm not going to questioning it. I think we have to participate in one way or another to continue to fight for the civil rights of Latino community in this state and whichever way each of us the best way is ok.

Daniel Ortega: We believe our approach will recognize the richness of Arizona -- I a lot of titles but the one title you didn't give me is I'm a Arizonan and proud to be an Arizonan and we want to encourage that, as long as with let's deal with this in a civil way. If the other groups want to do it, it's their right under the constitution.

Richard Ruelas: When S.B. 1070 was -- do you think it's an overall good thing it's coming here.

Daniel Ortega: I think in the gung when we were asking for the game to be pulled, the court had not blocked the implementation of 1070, number one. And number two, the court of appeals had not upheld the decision. As time went on and given the business communities participation in fighting this hate legislation, I think it it's called upon to take another approach.

Richard Ruelas: Do we expect a news conference, or bud Selig to respond?

Daniel Ortega: We did have a press conference last two morning. Number one, announcing the white ribbon campaign and why it's important for people to participate.

Richard Ruelas: While the game is here, do you think you'll make a national call for bud Selig to say something while the attention is on Phoenix?

Daniel Ortega: We're going to continue to promote the white ribbon campaign, to ask people to support immigration reform, and it oppose hate legislation.

Richard Ruelas: I guess you've been involved in this for a little bit. Is the gentler approach -- do you think it might change more minds than what we've seen with marches?

Daniel Ortega: Think we need to do whatever is going to get the most support for the things that are truly important for the Latino community in this state and that recognizes the diversity and -- and the richness of this state.

Richard Ruelas: Do you have a ticket?

Daniel Ortega: No.

Richard Ruelas: Yeah, that's too rich for my blood as well. But I appreciate you joining us.

Daniel Ortega: Thank you.

Daniel Ortega:Attorney and chairman, National Council of La Raza;

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