News / USA

Arizona Immigration Law Stokes National Debate

A new law in the southwestern state of Arizona aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration has sparked an intense national debate over the issue that could have enormous political consequences for both U.S. political parties.

The new Arizona law goes into effect in a few months and requires law enforcement officials to question people if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.

Civil rights groups are challenging the new law in court, arguing it effectively gives police the right to use racial profiling to go after suspected illegal immigrants.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Obama administration is also considering a challenge to the new law.

The controversial Arizona law has rekindled an intense national debate about what the United States should do about illegal immigration.

A new Gallup Poll found that 39 percent of those asked support the Arizona law, 30 percent oppose it and 31 percent either have no opinion or haven't heard of it.

Passions on both sides of the issue are running high.

Bishop Minerva Carcano is with the United Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and she and other church leaders there worry about the impact of the new law on the immigrant population.

"They were devastated and they were afraid.  They fear that they will be stopped for being brown, that their immigrant parents will be deported and that their families will be separated and trampled by a rampant hatred that is out of control in Arizona," said Carcano.

But others support the new law as an attempt to get a handle on a growing problem.  There are about 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, with about 460,000 of those residing in Arizona.

Republican members of Congress from Arizona and from neighboring states say the federal government is not doing enough to stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

Texas Republican Congressman Ted Poe is among several lawmakers calling on President Barack Obama to send National Guard troops down to the southwestern border to beef up security.

"We need the full support of the federal government.  This country protects the borders of other nations better than it protects our own border, and it is important at this time that we make this border security issue a priority for the national security of the United States," said Poe.

The controversy over the Arizona law has spread around the country, says Rutgers University political expert Ross Baker.

"The stakes here are very high.  There are 460,000 estimated illegal aliens in Arizona.  It is a tremendous issue in the state.  If you believe the public opinion polls, Governor Brewer was supported pretty strongly by people in Arizona, but it has created an enormous amount of consternation throughout the country including threats of boycotts," Baker said.

Civil rights leaders and some celebrities are calling for a boycott against Arizona over the new law.

Some Democrats in Congress hope the controversy could spark a renewed effort at comprehensive immigration reform, which would include tighter border controls and offer many illegal immigrants already in the country a path to citizenship.

But political experts, including Ross Baker of Rutgers, say finding bipartisan support for immigration reform during an election year will be very difficult.

Baker says cracking down on illegal immigration remains a potent national issue in advance of November's congressional midterm elections.

"Members of Congress are acutely aware of who can vote and who can't.  Much of the uproar against illegal immigration comes from Americans over the age of 55.  All the public opinion polls show this.  One of the other things that politicians know about people over the age of 55 is that they are most likely to show up and vote," he said.

Hispanic-American voters are growing in numbers and influence, and Baker believes Republicans risk antagonizing those voters if they push too hard on the issue of immigration enforcement.

"But everybody acknowledges that in the long run, when more Latinos get citizenship, it will be a very, very powerful voting bloc," Baker added.

Republican analysts counter that Hispanic-American voters are not always a unified political group.  Scot Faulkner served in the Reagan administration in the 1980's and worked for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in the 1990's.

"Hispanics are not a monolith.  As you start to deconstruct the Hispanic population into their countries of origin, it is not a monolithic political bloc in terms of their interests and even their leanings," said Faulkner.

President Obama has said he would like Congress to pass an immigration reform bill that strengthens border security and creates a process for illegal immigrants to become citizens.  But the president also conceded that it may not be possible for Congress to pass such a bill during this politically polarized election year.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs