Arizona's controversial new immigration law creates huge divide in state, while bringing the issue back to the forefront U.S. politics.
NOGALES, ARIZONA, UNITED STATES (APRIL 28, 2010) REUTERS - Emotions in Arizona remained heated on Wednesday (April 28), where reaction to the state's new law that promises a crackdown on illegal immigrants has reached a near boiling point.
The controversial law, which Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into effect last Friday (April 23), has created strong feelings on both sides.
It requires state and local police to determine a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are undocumented. Critics say it is unconstitutional and opens the door to racial profiling.
Republican backers argue that it's needed to curb crime in the desert state, which is a key corridor for drug and migrant smugglers from Mexico.
"Enough is enough. How many more people have to die, billions of cost to the tax payers," explained State Senator Russell Pearce, the author of the bill.
"It is outrageous, it is malfeasance on the part of the government. Even farther, the government is complacent in the deaths, the maiming, the billions of dollars in cost to America and American citizens. Our citizens have a constitutional right to have these laws enforced and the failure to enforce them is an abuse to the lawful citizens in this country, who pay the price for that failure" Pearce added.
There are some 10.8 million illegal immigrants living and working in the United States, an estimated 460,000 of them in Arizona.
A Rasmussen Reports poll on Wednesday found that almost two-thirds or 64 percent of voters in the Arizona favored the measure.
"I know a lot of people who come over the border to have babies, so that they can stay in this country," complained Lisa Cummings, a longtime resident of Phoenix.
"They don't have to pay their insurance to have their baby. I pay insurance. Why is that fair for them and not me. It is not, it is just giving every one an equal chance. The problem is that they are coming over the border, they are smuggling people in and why not do it the right way" added Cummings.
Protest organizers who staged a gathering outside the state capitol on Wednesday were outraged over the law.
"There is a lot of ignorance on the anglos. They see a hispanic, we're good to wash your dishes, to clean your yard, to build your houses, to do the work from the bottom. You mean to tell me we are not good enough to be like you guys," said Daniel Valdez, who believes the bill will result in racial profiling.
Others find the law un-American.
"It is not what America is about. It is not what our history is about. I am totally American and I totally believe in the American way. I don't believe in discrimination, I don't believe in hating people, this was not the right route to take," added Tony Zuniga, a local criminal attorney in Phoenix.
The law, which also makes it a crime to transport illegal immigrants and to hire day laborers off the street, has already had an impact on those looking for work.
"I only came here for the job," explained Gabriel Estorrez, a day laborer, who may consider leaving Arizona as a result of the new law.
"The police, sometimes there is too much problems. The sheriff, you watch him, if you are hispanic, you need your I.D., your papers. It is too much problems for this. I do not know."
Arizona's law is slated to take effect 90 days after the current legislative session adjourns in late July or early August. .
The bold move has reverberated well beyond its border, sparking calls for economic boycotts and celebrity intervention. Colombian-born pop star Shakira said she will travel to Phoenix on Thursday (April 29) to help campaign against the new law, and would meet with Mayor Phil Gordon, police and Latino families. She sought a meeting with Governor Brewer but was turned down, her publicist said.