News / Americas

Arizona Immigration Law Fuels Debate in California


This week Monday, a coalition of advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in Washington to block a pending law in the Western U.S. state of Arizona. Arizona is on the U.S. border with Mexico, and the controversial law is a response to illegal immigration to the state. The statute will go into effect in August, but it has prompted a backlash in neighboring California and other parts of the country.

For the past few weeks, thousands have protested the Arizona law in Washington, Los Angeles, and other U.S. cities.  Last week, Los Angeles barred city officials from doing business with companies based in Arizona.   A number of other cities have done the same.

The Arizona law allows police to check someone's immigration status if they believe the person may be in the country illegally.   It also requires immigrants to carry immigration documents.

The law's critics say it encourages racial profiling.  Its defenders say it prohibits police from taking ethnic origin into account.

The law's critics also say illegal immigrants are important to the economy of the United States.  There are several million in California, and nearly 500,000 in Arizona, and they are usually indistinguishable from legal immigrants.  They work on farms, in restaurants and in service jobs.

Political analyst Raul Hinojosa of the University of California, Los Angeles, says it is impractical and inhumane to deport half a million people from Arizona. And he says the state cannot afford to lose them.

"Our estimates are minimally anywhere from 13 billion to as much as $100 billion in lost economic activity in Arizona if they were to deport the undocumented population of the state," he said.

He says a UCLA study shows that legalizing the estimated 12 million people in the country illegally could boost the U.S. economy by more than 100 billion dollars a year.

But others say the illegal immigrants put a strain on public services like schools, and hospitals.  And they says immigration laws now in place should be enforced.

In one Arizona neighborhood, a couple worries about drug crime that they say spills across the border. "The gangs.  You know, that's really what is scary about all of this," he said.

At a center for day laborers in California, immigrants say they are here to work and are concerned about what is happening in Arizona.

One, named Saul, is worried.

He says he has looked for information in the news, on the Internet and in magazines.  He says the law seems to target those of Hispanic in origin, and perhaps those without documents.

Work has been stalled on a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and Arizona Senator John McCain says finishing it will curb illegal immigration. He made the point in a television ad.

"Complete the dang fence," he said.

Thursday, a small group of undocumented students and their supporters held a protest in Los Angeles.  Organizer Cydni Bendezu says the Arizona law should be repealed.  "It's a law that does not allow students to have education or people to have life and liberty," she said.

But others say those who enter the country through legal methods would be penalized if those who entered illegally were given legal status.

Jose Veliz, an organizer with the Los Angeles day labor center, says many undocumented immigrants have been here for years.  He says they live in the shadows, and that something must be done to solve the problem.

"They don't have any access how to gain citizenship, so there needs to be some sort of reform so we could have those people legalized," he said.

Both supporters and critics of the Arizona law say the problem must be solved at the federal level and that Congress needs to tackle the controversial issue of immigration.

You May Like

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

16 Dead in Guatemala Prison Riot

Prison spokesman quoted as saying fighting was between members of Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha gangs and fellow inmates who don't belong to gangs

Haiti Opposition Says Transitional Government May Be Needed

Eight candidates in last month's disputed presidential election are demanding major changes in Haiti's electoral system, other agencies and say if that doesn't happen, transitional govt should be created

With Peace Near, Debates Grows Over Colombia's Draft

Among six Latin American countries, including Brazil and Cuba, with a military draft, Colombia is the only one at war

IOC Leaders to Discuss Mexico Dispute Next Month

The International Olympic Committee said Friday the issue of government interference in Mexico will be reviewed by its policy-making executive board at its Dec. 8-10 meeting in Lausanne

Hurricane Sandra Loses Strength Off Mexican Coast

Now a Category 3 storm in the Pacific with winds of 195 kph, it's expected to weaken to a tropical storm Friday night

Ecuador to Impose Visa Requirements on Cuban Citizens

Objective is 'to discourage the flow of people seeking to reach the United States,' Ecuador's deputy foreign minister says