Friday, 14 May 2010

Reaction to immgration law

There has been an outcry towards the new Law by the sports world. Robert Menendez who is a Hispanic democrat senator for New Jersey has called for baseball players to boycott the 2011 All Star game which is to take place in Phoenix Arizona. Mr Menendez who was writing to Micheal Weiner the director of Major League Baseball stated:

'The Arizona law is offensive to Hispanics and all Americans because it codifies racial profiling into law by requiring police to question anyone who appears to be in the country illegally'

The public have also shown their disdain for the new Law the Observer reported:

'Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through at least 70 cities in America yesterday to protest against the new anti- immigration legislation in Arizona that they say discriminates against illegal immigrants and amounts to racial profiling of Hispanics. … In Los Angeles, an estimated 100,000 people were expected to have taken part in the demonstration yesterday. Organisers in the city, which has a larger Hispanic population, painted red and yellow signs that read “Todos Somoa Arizona” (We are all Arizona)'

Article can be found here:

We discussed in class whether we thought this legislation would change the amounts of immigrants coming into the country. The Observer reports:

'Regelio Cuvas is just the kind of migrant that the state of Arizona would like to keep out. A 39-year-old shop worker, he was deported from the U.S last week after spending 10 years in Los Angeles. Now he finds himself in the ramshackle Mexican border town of Nogales, just over 1,000 miles south of Phoenix, where lawmakers have passed draconian anti-immigrant legislation. … “It is not a good law. People can pick me up because they just see me in the street,” said Cuvas. But would it stop him making a bid return? “No, of course not,” he said, as of the question was absurd.'

The law is also affecting the stores in America. Many Mexican customers in Nogales who would do their shopping in the U.S no longer want to shop there.

'Lydia Medina, who workers in one of the drug shops, said she does not want to cross anymore. “Nobody I know is going over there,” she said. When asked for her reaction to the law, she threw up her hands and shouted one word: “Racist!”'

Article can be found here:

Although the new law is making some happy in Arizona as they feel the local government is making a stand against immigration. It is also causing many problems for Arizona and the Arizonian people. Boycotts will affect the economy and businesses. Tourism may also be affected as many feel negatively toward this legislation. Finally, it is unknown how affective this will prove to be in deporting illegal immigrants, but if we are to believe Mr Cuvas it will not stop people crossing the border.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Arizona Immigration law, signed 23-04-10

On April 23rd 2010, Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, signed 'the nation's toughest Bill on illegal immigration' ( into law. Aimed at systematically identifying, prosecuting and deporting more illegal immigrants from the state of Arizona, the Bill risks racial profiling Hispanic immigrants, whether legal or illegal, and subjecting them to ultimately 'prodecural' discrimination. The New York Times also reported Cardinal Roger M Mahoney of Los Angeles saying that, 'the authorities’ ability to demand documents was like “Nazism.” ', ( Indeed, the demanding of citizens' proof will create unease and tension between Hispanic communities and authorities of Arizona. Arizona boasts a 30.1% (Census 2008) Hispanic population; a figure that can't be ignored or easily subjected to pressure from government.

The Border Action Network, a democratic, leftist group who I looked at in detail in previous weeks, immediately setup rallies and protests in retaliation against the Bill. As they stress on their website, the Bill is now headed for a federal court challenge because, '[it] would result in widespread, pervasive discrimination on the basis of race and national origin, with irreparable harm dealt to those who are unlawfully arrested under this unconstitutional law.'

A Gallup Poll, conducted between the 1st and 2nd of May this very year found the following,

The table shows just how important reform is concerning this issue amongst a polled proportion of Americans. It is clear from the table that specifically more 'control' (42%) of borders is important to Americans, and that those questioned expect this action from their government this year.

This is a politically polarizing issue. As mentioned both by Hannah and Cherie, President Obama has criticised Arizona's position on the matter. The success of this one State at passing a Bill could signal to other Governors of border States that they too should propose similar Bills because polls like the Gallup evidently record supportive Americans. With a large proportion of Hispanics choosing to vote Democrat, (67 voted Obama in 2008 -, Obama must adopt a sensitive position on the issue as potentially future elections rely on these voters.

Ultimately this law restricts the freedoms of legal Americans too. Regardless of whether an Hispanic is legal or not, they will be subject to inspection by policemen, who Brewer claims will be 'properly trained'. She goes on to say, 'We have to trust our law enforcement'. But with the cracks in law enforcement that came to light in 1991 in the Rodney King police brutality case, trust in law enforcement concerning racial profiling could appear fractured.

After the successful passing of the Healthcare Bill, Obama's focus now remains on passing an energy Bill concerning American industries and the environment. This current concern over immigration risks overshadowing Obama's energy Bill plans and encourages Americans to question what is more important, the control of current immigration 'problems' or the need to address American environment and world politics on Climate Change. A nationally focused issue versus an international one.

The Arizona Senate Primaries are scheduled for 24th August 2010. Where potential candidates situate themselves on this issue will be critical to their results. According to The Rasmussen Reports (, '"91% [of respondents] say a candidate's position on immigration is at least somewhat important to how they will vote, with 67% who say it is very important."
The Arizona race sees incumbent John McCain versus Conservative J.D. Hayworth. McCain has said,

''If you don't like the legislation that the legislature passed and the governor signed in Arizona, then carry out the federal responsibilities, which are to secure the border — you probably wouldn't have had this problem."

Hayworth has also said that he strongly backs the law but accuses McCain of changing his position on Immigration for strategical political gain. The divide in the GOP which this issue is producing, put pressure on such potential candidates as they assess their Conservative stance and loyalty.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Arizona Immigration Law

With illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. from all directions, it's heartening to see someone, somewhere is fed up and finally going to do something about it... When Washington continues to demonstrate an inability to deal with the crisis, isn't it a state's right and duty to protect its citizens? If the federal government fails to recognize the scope of the problem, then states must take the initiative. So congratulations to Arizonans. You have a governor and Legislature with your best interests at heart.

USA Today

The 2010 Arizona Immigration Law SB1070 which was passed in April was immediately criticised by President Obama. According to an article for USA Today ‘The main point of contention in the law is the responsibility given to local police to verify immigration status if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the country illegally’.

The fundamental reason why this law has become so controversial, quickly leading to boycotts and protests, is a fear that it will cause racial profiling, which is a more than fair concern in my opinion. It is believed that there will be targeting of Latinos, which will instil unnecessary fear for people who were born here or are legal. Colombian singer Shakira condemned the law and voiced her worry ‘about the possible effects of the law on Hispanic victims of domestic abuse. "They're going to live in fear to call the police or to report a crime that has been inflicted to them," she said’.

Having discussed the American Civil Liberties Union before Easter, I was interested to research their reactions to this law. It seemed hardly surprising that when you first look at their website the first thing you find is a link to a page entitled ‘What Happens in Arizona, Stops in Arizona’.

The articles states that ‘We believe this law, which invites racial profiling in the worst way, is unconstitutional, and we will be challenging the law with a coalition of other civil rights groups’.

Obama has ordered a review to determine whether the law is constitutional; meanwhile there are some who support the law. An article for the Las Vegas Sun was written following the visit to Las Vegas from Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, who was there to defend the law. The issue is particularly resonant in Nevada because ‘Republican Assemblyman Chad Christensen, a long-shot candidate for U.S. Senate, is drafting a ballot initiative that would replicate the Arizona law in Nevada. Immigration is also a flashpoint in the governor’s race, with former federal Judge Brian Sandoval supporting the Arizona law and Gov. Jim Gibbons opposing it’.

The law has also had an effect on Marco Rubio, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate. Originally moderate on immigration laws but has now shifted and strongly supports the immigration laws. This shift has occurred as he wants support from the Tea-Party movement. This shift shows what an important issue immigration is becoming and one that is showing to be very significant in campaigns for seats in the U.S Senate.

Whilst I fully understand concerns that this law could cause racial profiling, I also am not shocked to read that 70% of Arizonans favoured the law. As the opening quote from USA Today highlights, immigration is one of the biggest issues in America which is yet to be successfully dealt with. It seems that this law has however given the problem a new focus and perhaps it will instigate a more immediate need to try and resolve it. Harry Reid who is the democratic Senate Majority Leader has outlined a proposal to that would increase border security and give some of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants a chance to earn citizenship.

As was written in USA Today

‘Until Washington makes the tough decisions to fix the nation's intolerable, unjust and mostly ignored immigration system, bad solutions like Arizona's will just keep on filling the vacuum'.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Arizona Immigration Law

According to the New York Times, in recent decades the United States has experienced the greatest wave of immigration since the 1920s. However, for the first time, illegal immigrants (many from bordering Mexico) are outnumbering legal immigrants and, in 2008, the estimate for illegal immigrants living in the USA was approaching 12,000,000 (source = In addition, the demographic profile of legal immigrants has changed significantly since the Immigration Act of 1965 - which amended the historic advantage afforded immigrants from Northern Europe under the quota system - and the Immigration Act of 1990, which expanded the quotas. This has led to an increasing number of immigrants from non-nativist ethnic/racial backgrounds especially those from South East Asia, India and South America. The combination of increased illegal immigration, and the racial/ethnic specificity of immigrants in recent decades, has created a backlash within the mainstream US in response to what is perceived as cultural and economic threats posed by ‘alien others’.

These tensions cross party boundaries and both Republican and Democratic politicians have responded to the fear amongst the electorate. In 1996, under Bill Clinton (1993-2001), laws were passed to strengthen the U.S. Border Patrol and erect fencing along the US-Mexican border. Also, Clinton’s welfare reforms cut social programmes for immigrants. George Bush (2001-2009) tried to pass a bi-partisan bill to deal with illegal immigration in 2007. However, this was not carried through as the US public were proven to be averse to any idea of granting legal status to any ‘illegals’ under any circumstances.

Although Barack Obama included immigration as an urgent policy issue in his campaign in 2008, it remained dormant until recently when Arizona ignited a firestorm by passing state legislation, contradictory to federal supremacy on the issue, which allows unprecedented authority to investigate and arrest suspected ‘illegals’. Other states, such as Kansas, Ohio and Georgia, are now considering following Arizona’s lead. Kris Kobach, a Kansas law professor, has been heavily involved in drafting Arizona’s legislation in order to help circumvent the federal government’s authority on the issue.

The Arizona law has created a split in the GOP between Republicans who support it and those, such as Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Karl Rove, who are against. In addition, Kobach is himself exploiting the issue in the GOP primary for the Kansas secretary of state race. According to Mary Giovagnoli of the Immigration Policy Center (source:, '(The Arizona) law was very carefully crafted to track many provisions in federal law — it creates a plausible case for proponents to say we're not doing anything new.' Kobach responded that he's simply learned from his regular adversaries, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. 'They take the courts very seriously and recognize that the legal battles in the courtroom are every bit as important in political battles in Congress and in the state legislature' Kobach responded.(source:

The positive response from many to the Arizona law has galvanized Democrats and led the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, to declare that the Senate would act on an immigration bill this year. He suggested that a new immigration bill could be introduced before the end of May. Recently, a coalition of senior Senate Democrats laid out the scope of a proposed overhaul of immigration law - and appealed to Republicans to join them in pursuing it. In March, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, unveiled the outlines of a reform proposal which would require illegal immigrants to admit they broke the law before they could gain legal status, and also required all workers in the United States to carry a biometric identity card to prove that they are eligible to work. But, after the Arizona law was signed, Senator Graham declared that Congress should not try to act on such a 'divisive' subject in an election year, leaving the prospects for a bipartisan approach confused.

President Obama criticised the Arizona bill shortly before it was signed. The law, he said, threatened "to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe." (source: The president has signalled that he is seeking a way to allow illegal aliens to become legal, while imposing restrictions that would make immigration more orderly (." (source: The Arizona Legislature subsequently made changes to the law on 30th April 2010 which now explicitly bans the police from racial profiling and allows them to inquire about immigration status only of people they stop, detain or arrest in enforcing existing state law. But the new law now also includes civil violations of municipal codes as grounds to check papers, and opponents such as the ACLU were not appeased by the changes. However, public support for the Arizona bill has led the state’s Senator John McCain to endorse it despite previously refusing to back its more extreme measures. Russell Pearce, the state senator who wrote the law, cannot be dismissed as antithetical to the mainstrean position as he is also chairman of the Senate’s appropriation committee. As such, his influence extends to controlling the finance of bills.

The enactment of the Arizona law demonstrates the relative lack of political agency within the Arizona immigrant community and how politicians, in an election year, are willing to capitalise on immigration anxiety – particularly in key border states such as Arizona. According to Randal Archibold in a New York Times article (source:

‘More than a few Democrats took notice that Mr. Pearce, whose district is in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, managed to win unanimous support for the bill from House Republicans, even from some moderates who had voiced misgivings about it. One of those moderates, State Representative Bill Konopnicki, Republican of Yuma, said planned amendments to address legal and other concerns never materialized. In the end, he said, “everybody was afraid to vote no on immigration.”’

Thus reflecting the extent to which moderate politicians are prepared to endorse legislation contradictory to their ethos in order to facilitate election goals. However, the Hispanic community, the biggest minority group in the USA, are a significant source of Democratic support. Any federal legislation antithetical to this important demographic group could therefore damage Democratic electoral prospects in the upcoming Congressional and Senatorial elections.