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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Mexico Police Investigate Police Link in Shooting Deaths of US Siblings

Deaths of Erica Alvarado Rivera, her brothers and boyfriend as they traveled to visit family is third high-profile case in recent months that links security forces to extrajudicial killings
More

Lawmaker Blasts US Participation in Cuba Ebola Meeting

Mario Diaz-Balart said ALBA, which chaired the meeting, 'was created solely to oppose US interests' and US participation was 'ludicrous'
More

US Coast Guard Rescues 33 Cubans at Sea

Because the overloaded boat did not make landfall, those rescued will be returned to Cuba
More

Western Experts Increasingly Fear Lone Wolf Terror Attacks

Slaying and assault on Canada's parliament building was followed by a hatchet attack on two New York City policemen
More

Search Underway at New Site in Mexico Missing Students Case

This week marked one month since the students went missing after clashing with police in mysterious circumstances
More

Public Transport in Latin America, Asia Most Dangerous for Women

Thousands of women and gender experts were questioned to create the listing
More