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Groups rally over immigration policies


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SALT LAKE CITY -- The immigration issue boiled up again as opposing sides of the issue traded barbs in downtown Salt Lake Friday.

Utah Latinos and their supporters organized a rally to send a message, they hope, all the way to the White House. They're calling for humane and comprehensive immigration reform, but they have their detractors.

A crowd of several hundred immigration supporters gathered early Friday afternoon, but across the street from them was a smaller group of Utah's Minuteman Project supporters. Both sides want to see big changes made in the way the country is run.

Eduardo Reyes supports immigration reform. He said, "This is something that affects everyone in the community."

Eduardo Reyes came to the U.S. as a child. Today he's studying to become an immigration lawyer to make a difference in a community he's says is filled with hardworking people.

"They take 10, 20 years and they cannot get their residency. I want to help with that," he said.

One law that upsets him is SB81, which aims to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs or public services, the enforcement of which falls on police. It's something no one at the rally supported.

Rally organizer Tony Yapias said, "The main thing we're trying to do is push for immigration reform. As indicated by President Obama in the last few days, the idea is to start the discussion on immigration reform."

Isaac Giron, a member of the Brown Berets, said, "It's a law that doesn't help anyone in any way and strips good, hard working people of their rights."

Theresa Martinez told KSL, "This is not fair legislation, it's not well thought out."

A news release from Yapias of Proyecto Latino de Utah says it's an event held in conjunction with several different groups, all with the goal of promoting "dignity and respect for all."

Just across the street from that rally, however, were the Minuteman supporters. Utah's Minuteman Project believes it's a small step in the right direction.

Eli Cawley, Chair of the Utah Minuteman Project, said, "We have 40 million illegal alien invaders in our country. They're stealing our jobs, plundering our treasury."

The group marched around the intersection carrying handmade signs and wearing surgical masks.

Eric Garrett, with the Utah Minuteman Project, said, "That flu's coming out of Mexico, and there are a lot of illegals over there, we don't want to get sick."

They'd like to see even stricter enforcement of the country's borders.

Deborah White, also with the Utah Minuteman Project, said, "Things are way out of control. They've gone too far."

The group says it fears potential legislation from the Obama administration, which it believes will provide for amnesty for millions of people who are in the United States illegally.

Earlier Friday the Utah Minuteman Project protested in front of the Salt Lake City Chamber building, saying some of the members knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The Chamber had no comment.

Story compiled with information from Becky Bruce , John Daley and Sarah Dallof.

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