An Arizona immigration bill just signed by Gov. Jan Brewer is causing controversy and anger among many Latino advocates. It became the law in a state that shares a border with Sonora, Mexico. The bill requires people to carry proof of legal status and mandate that police check for it.
A decade ago, California had the same issues regarding undocumented immigration. But California is very different from Arizona. Latinos mobilized in California gaining support from other ethnic groups. That is why harsh immigration laws did not pass there. Other states have signed similar bills in the past, but many have been challenged in the Supreme Court. Oklahoma is the latest example of what could happen when these bills become law.
Some Latino advocates argue that Arizona’s fast-growing Latino population will eventually begin flexing its political muscle to force a more moderate course on immigration. Nearly half of all K-12 students and babies born in the state are Latino.
Antonio Gonzalez of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, which helped register more than 55,000 new Latino voters in Arizona between 2004 and 2008, said, “Demography is destiny.”
Many Latinos are worried that this bill will bring more profiling against anyone who looks Latino and has an accent.
Even President Obama called the bill “misguided.” He is instructing the Justice Department to see if it is legal. He said, “The federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level . . .or leave the door open to irresponsibility by others.”
He also said “Recent efforts in Arizona threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”