FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 03, 2010
Arizona law creates 'citizenship police' and amplifies immigration debate
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A Southwestern state that shares a 370-mile border with Mexico is testing how far it can go to combat illegal immigration. In August it will become a state crime for undocumented foreigners to be in Arizona, and police must ask questions when they think that could be the case. Just over a week ago, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a law that requiring cops to ask for proof of citizenship or legal immigration status anytime "reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States."
An immediate, widespread outcry arose. Even most local law enforcers think it's a bad idea that diverts cops from their main priorities, as the Arizona police chiefs' association says. Other critics worry about racial profiling of Hispanics and Latinos, including those born here. President Obama, who calls the move "polarizing" and "misguided," says it shows that Congress should address immigration policy as a national issue.
Gov. Brewer, a Republican, says the crackdown responds to chronic problems of drug smuggling, other cross-border crime and a drain on state services caused by illegal arrivals. "We're not going to put up with it any longer," she says. "And I hope that now we've got [the new measure] signed and ready to go into law that we'll get somebody's attention. It is the federal government's responsibility to secure our borders."
Governor says: "I made perfectly clear when I signed the bill that we would not tolerate racial profiling. It's illegal." -- Jan Brewer, Republican governor of Arizona
Senator says: "There is no intention whatsoever to violate anyone's civil rights, but this is a national security issue. The people in Southern Arizona have had their rights violated by the unending and constant flow of drug smugglers and human traffickers across their property." -- U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Latina singer says: The law "dulls human and civil rights of citizens and non-citizens. . . . We are concerned about the implementation of the law and the consequences it can have on the working families." -- Shakira, pop star born in Colombia
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