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Arizona immigrants celebrate Arpaio defeat _ and fear Trump

PHOENIX (AP) – Immigrants who rejoiced at the ousting of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio have someone else to worry about – President-Elect Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant sentiment helped propel his candidacy.

Immigrant activists in Phoenix said Wednesday they’re worried about their status and hope a Trump presidency will unite people in the same way they came together to beat Arpaio.

The defeat came 24 years after Arpaio first took office in Arizona’s most populous county. He was handily beaten Tuesday by Democrat Paul Penzone.

Arpaio is known for his immigration patrols and many Hispanics in the county despise him.

Trump launched his candidacy for president by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and vowing to ban Muslims from entering the country. His victory speech, however, called for unity.

About a dozen activists who gathered outside Arpaio’s headquarters acknowledged their mix of emotions involving Arpaio and Trump, who says he plans to slow legal and illegal immigration.

It seems Trump has backed off previous threats to deport the estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. who lack legal status, but he has held on to other hard-line stances on immigration.

Michael Nazario, an activist with Living United for Change in Arizona, one of the organizations behind the effort to unseat the sheriff, said it felt great to see him lose.

“But soon we began seeing the votes coming in for the states and we realized this might be an uphill battle,” he said about the election of Trump.

Nazario was brought to the country illegally as a child and has deferred action status, which means he can’t be deported and can legally work under an Obama administration program. He’s on a path to get permanent residency through his wife, an American citizen, but still worries for his parents, who lack legal status.

“I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win in this election but it just comes to show that there is this hate lingering across the nation,” Nazario said.

The disappointment with Trump’s victory extended to hundreds of high school students who staged walk-out protests on Wednesday, marching to the statehouse with megaphones and chanting Trump is not their president. Hundreds of students also protested on Tuesday in the Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale.

Arpaio opponents say they hope a Trump presidency will unite Latinos and immigrants.

“I believe (Arpaio) has taken my fear and I think it’s time to unite and it’s time to organize ourselves and I’m not afraid,” Maria Rodriguez of Phoenix said during a news conference held by Bazta Arpaio, a grassroots movement that helped oust the sheriff.

Rodriguez, 40, was deported and stayed in Mexico for three years. Her U.S.-born daughter and naturalized citizen son, who were in high school and middle school at the time, stayed in Arizona. She’s back in the U.S. with a humanitarian visa and is awaiting an immigrant court case.

“My family was separated. I don’t want other families to be separated,” she said.

Tania Unzueta, 32, said she is worried about her status as an immigrant with deferred action status but confident that immigrants will fight against any policies that hurt them.

“I also think we have lived the last eight years under the president who’s deported the most people in the history of the United States and that there are undocumented people who have shown a lot of strength and the power of organizing and what it means to be unafraid,” Unzueta said.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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