News / Asia

America's Asian Community Joins Debate Over Arizona's Immigration Law

David Dyar

Although a federal judge has blocked implementation of its most controversial provisions, the enactment of a new immigration law in the US state of Arizona has led to a furious debate over what some are calling the possible profiling of certain groups of people. Arizona's governor says she will appeal the judge's ruling blocking the part of the legislation ordering law enforcement officials to ask for proof of citizenship or legal residence from anyone they stop, if they have reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally. Some say the law would put an unfair spotlight not only on those from south of the US border, but on those from the Far East.

Joe Arpaio is the chief law enforcement officer in Maricopa County Arizona, which encompasses its largest city Phoenix. "Well, since we're close to the border , naturally we do have an influx of people from Latin America, Mexico, coming across the border specifically through Arizona. We do not have many from Asia, although I can recall recently that we arrested five from China. They came through maybe Cuba but ended up in Mexico City , came across our border, came through Maricopa County and we arrested them," he said.

"I am opposed to the Arizona law and I think that the Asian population should be concerned as well. As many listeners may know, one of the many criticisms of the law has been that Arizona police officers will be singling out Hispanic or Latino looking individuals and they are claiming that they're not gonna do that.  In my opinion, in order to prove that they're not gonna do that, they're gonna be looking for other people that fit the profile of immigrants. And to be quite honest with you, Asians are the next in line," said Bill Hing, a law professor at the University of San Francisco in California and an Asian American who was born in Arizona and still has family there.

Dr. Karen Leong, who is a professor of Asian Pacific American studies at Arizona State University, which is in Maricopa County, says other laws already in effect have led to a number of Asians being questioned by police. "We already have reports in Maricopa County where law enforcement has been authorized to participate in some of the federal enforcement where persons of Asian descent have been stopped and asked for their citizenship status and they have been legal US citizens," she said.

A recent poll shows most Americans supporting the Arizona immigration law.  Dr Leong says there is a reason for that. "There is an issue where we need immigration reform; I don't think anyone is questioning that. But the laws that are passed do not actually address structural reforms that are needed for immigration reform. They actually address easy targets, in this case people of color, people with brown skin who seem to not fit what people think Americans look like," she said.

So what should people in Asia do if they plan a visit to Arizona? Maricopa Sherriff Arpaio says "just come on over. Make sure you have your proper documentation. There's nothing to worry about. We're not going to go into a Chinese restaurant or on a corner and start asking people for their papers because they look like they may be from another foreign country. However, if there is a contact made with law enforcement pursuant to us enforcing the laws, the state laws, then we will ask for identification and try to develop whether they are here illegally without that proper documentation," he said.

Leong disagrees. "I would recommend they do not come. Partially because this law is violating people's civil rights and partially because as people of Asian descent, they will be asked for their identification unless they're with a recognized tour. In that case they may not. But otherwise, if they're just renting their own cars, there is a good likelihood they could be questioned," she said.

Although there is support for the new law, Arizona is facing opposition from within the United States. The city of Los Angeles has banned most official travel to neighboring Arizona along with future contracts with the state.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid