SB1070, signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23rd, will have a devastating impact on immigrant communities in Arizona. If the law is implemented as planned late next month, we expect to see a marked increase in refugees and immigrants detained in remote facilities in Florence and Eloy and children’s facilities in Phoenix. Arizona already holds more than 10% of the country’s detained immigrants and has served as a testing lab for aggressive immigration enforcement measures that tend to spread eastward and northward.

The Florence Project remains the only free legal service provider for the approximately 3,000 people detained in Immigration & Customs Enforcement custody for removal proceedings on any given day. In 2009, our staff of just 14 assisted over 7,000 people from 91 different countries. We are bracing ourselves for not only a rise in cases post SB1070, but an increase in the complexity of cases as individuals seek to challenge the lawfulness of their apprehension by the police. We also expect to see more families forcibly separated, with U.S. citizen children and spouses losing a primary breadwinner and loved one to detention and deportation.

Arizona is not as a whole an anti-immigrant state, as demonstrated by the incredible staff and board of the Florence Project and thousands of others who tirelessly advocate for immigrant rights in Arizona every day. But we are unfortunately outnumbered in terms of politics and—at the moment—power. We need the support of people outside our state to continue to respond so strongly to this legislation and do whatever you can to ensure it doesn’t surface in your own communities. One way to do this is to speak out and be vigilant in combating policies and practices that unjustly target people based on their race, citizenship, sexual orientation or other discriminatory ground. Another is to lend support to the people on the “front lines” who are dealing with the repercussions of this terrible piece of legislation and other enforcement actions against immigrant communities in Arizona

A donation to the Florence Project at this time will help ensure we are equipped to deal with the current work and the work that is surely ahead. As those who are familiar with us know, we are an organization with very little administrative overhead and small salaries for our incredibly hardworking staff. What keeps us motivated is our belief in our mission and our desire to witness and advocate for our clients, who usually have no one else to fight for them. Any donation to the Florence Project, no matter what the size, will go directly to our work with detainees and no place else. Please consider donating now via our website at www.firrp.org or by mailing us a check at PO Box 654, Florence, AZ 85132. All donations are tax deductible and we will send you a letter for your records.

If you can’t join us by making a donation, tell a friend about us or consider asking us to speak to your community group, school or congregation about our work. One thing we’ve learned in the past several weeks is that raising awareness packs a powerful punch. Here’s to hoping it leads us to a better place.