Arizona Citizens Speak on Controversial New Immigration Law

The anti-immigration measure has fierce detractors and fervent supporters

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Arizona's controversial new anti-illegal immigration bill has sparked calls for legal battles, political fights, and boycotts. The law's defenders point out that such a harsh measure--which seems to encourage racial profiling--is a necessary stopgap in a state that needs the federal government to address illegal immigration. In op-eds and letters, Arizona's citizens show a mixture of support for the law and embarrassment about the uproar it has caused.

  • Law All Bad  Back on April 12, the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform and the Arizona Interfaith Network co-signed an opinion in the Arizona Capitol Times. They're very clear on the law: "It makes us less safe, places a crippling unfunded mandate on our cities, towns and counties, damages our state's economy and codifies racial discrimination. Moreover, it does nothing to address the root causes of the immigration problem." The police will now have to "focus on immigration enforcement," at the expense of focus on violent crime. Sarah Garrecht Grassen, meanwhile, passionately argues against anti-immigrant sentiment and racial profiling in the Arizona Daily Star.
  • Driven to Desperation  "Fifty three percent of likely Arizona voters are concerned that the state's tough new law targeting illegal immigrants will also be used to violate the civil rights of United States citizens," writes Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts. "The majority of them support it anyway." Obama is correct to say that the bill threatens American ideas of fairness, she writes. But that's what things have come to:

Mr. President, are you listening? Secretary Napolitano, remember us?

If you or your predecessors had done something to close the nation's back door, we wouldn't be in this fix, where U.S. citizens are left to wonder whether they'll be asked for their papers simply because of the color of their skin. Where our ranchers live in a war zone and our largest city is the kidnapping capital of the planet.

  • Arizona May Force Action, but Will Suffer All Consequences  The editorial board of the State Press, newspaper of Arizona State University bemoan their state becoming "the target of ridicule from across the globe." Aside from negative impact on tourism, they also mention the possibility of an "overstrained police force" leading to "slower response times and dropping arrest rates," as happened when Maricopa County attempted to address illegal immigration. Their conclusion: "If this law is what it takes to get the federal government to take real action on the issue, then at least it will have one positive effect. But it will be completely at the expense of the state."
  • Law 'Our Only Hope,' counters Arizona resident Dan Watson in the East Valley Tribune, "to confront and stop the spillover of escalating violence that is happening south of the border on a daily basis. This bill is not a blank check to allow racial profiling. Similar to most laws, those who are not breaking this law have nothing to worry about." Arizona is on its own: "the Feds have proven by their overt inaction that they will not help..."
  • Newsflash: Countries Are Allowed to Enforce Immigration Policies  Writes Jim Kelley in support of the law in the Tucson Citizen: "Every country in the world has laws for the documentation of coming and going, from the most oppressive tyrannies to the most progressive democracies. Every one. Everyone of them requires identification of some kind."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.