PHOENIX—It’s a warm afternoon at a trailer park in Central Phoenix as Isidro Carreras sets up chairs on his lawn. Neighbors start arriving gradually, until a group of about 30 people has gathered in a circle.
The session of the Comité de Defensa del Barrio (Neighborhood Defense Committee) is about to begin. The group is one of many that was formed with the help of the pro-immigrant organization PUENTE as a support network for immigrant families in the wake of the passage of Arizona’s tough immigration law, SB 1070.
One year after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law, making it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Arizona, immigrant networks have grown stronger. Two years ago, there were no Neighborhood Defense Committees here. Now there are about 20 of these immigrant groups in different parts of Phoenix alone.
“SB 1070 really hurt us, but also united us as one,” says Carreras, a 57-year-old undocumented immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico.