News / Americas

Arizona Immigration Law Fuels Debate in California

Multimedia

Mike O'Sullivan

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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Texas Gov. Perry Orders State National Guard to Border

Governor says he took extraordinary measure to help secure the border, his critics say it is a political stunt
More

Cuba Hopes for More Investment as Chinese President Arrives

Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a two-day visit to Cuba on Monday evening
More

Video Addicts’ Safe Haven in Vancouver Helps Control HIV

Supervised-injection facility lowers spread of infection locally, studies show, but has critics
More

Video Shunned by Family, Haitian Orphan Finds Supportive Home

'We deal with [HIV] stigma by ... making life as normal for kids as possible'
More

Spanish Police Arrest Suspected Colombian Crime Lord

40-year-old identified as key member of violent Colombian drug cartel, one of Colombia's most wanted criminals
More

China Provides $4B to Venezuela in Exchange for Oil

Deal inked during a 24-hour visit to Venezuela by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is on a tour of Latin America
More