Turning point for Arizona immigration law is watched nationwide
Watch for coverage of the Phoenix judge's ruling on whether full or partial enforcement can begin Thursday. Does the decision seem sensible?
Comments about the situation are voiced and published nationwide. Look for local reactions. Are any from the Hispanic community?
Latino and Hispanic professionals, merchants, students, parents and athletes are in the paper for reasons that have nothing to do with immigration or Arizona's law. Try to spot an example of this "mainstream coverage," as journalists call it.
A controversial Arizona law aimed at illegal immigrants is set to take effect Thursday unless a federal judge blocks it temporarily, as the Obama administration urged in a Phoenix court late last week. That hearing, and the law itself, reflect a hot issue: Should local police, rather than federal authorities, be able to question people they suspect are in the United States illegally?
"Regulation of immigration is unquestionably, exclusively, a federal power," an attorney representing the U.S. Justice Department told Federal Judge Susan Bolton. "It is not for one of our states to be inhospitable in the way this statute does." The law may bring police harassment of U.S. citizens, the attorney added. On the other side, a lawyer for Arizona accused the Obama administration of ignoring requests from Republican Gov. Jan Brewer and other governors for more help securing the border with Mexico. "We keep hearing that we can't really do anything about these illegal aliens -- Arizona should just deal with it," he told the judge. "You can't catch them if you don't know about them. And [federal officials] don't want to know about them."
The law, which Brewer signed in April, requires state and local police to arrest people unable to prove they're here legally when questioned during a traffic stop or other law enforcement contact. It also makes it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant and to hire day laborers off the street. Critics fear Hispanic American citizens will be harassed. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police opposes the law because of concerns about an added obligation on officers' time and because it may erode relations with Hispanic American citizens. "I really don't know if it will have any significant effect at all," says Chief Paul Moncada of Benson, Ariz. "Will it be a deterrent? Probably not."
Behind the arguments are stark facts: Arizona, which touches Mexico, is the main U.S. entry point for illegal immigrants. Border Patrol agents based in Tucson arrested about 650 people a day during the first six months of 2010. The state's Arizona population of 6.6 million was estimated to include 460,000 illegal immigrants last year. Nationally, an estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants were in this country at the start of 2009.
Governor says: ""We feel very, very confident that we stand on good ground. We . . . believe from our heart that it's constitutional and the right thing to do." -- Jan Brewer
Civil liberties group says: "This extreme law, which practically begs police to engage in racial profiling, will lead to unnecessary police harassment of citizens based solely on the fact that they may look or sound like they are foreign." -- Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona
Hispanic-American says: ""My white friends say, 'Oh, Melissa, you're making such a big deal of it.' But they're white. They don't have to deal with it." -- Melissa Herrera DiPeso, real estate agency owner in Benson, Ariz.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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