News / USA

Obama Concerned About Tough New Arizona Immigration Law


Kent Klein

A tough new immigration law has been enacted in the Southwestern U.S. state of Arizona.  U.S. President Barack Obama calls the crackdown misguided.    

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation Friday that has been described as one of America's toughest immigration laws.

The new law requires police in Arizona to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are in the country illegally.  Immigrants are now required to carry registration documents at all times.

Governor Brewer said drug violence in Mexico, along Arizona's southern border, has forced her to act, to protect the people of her state. "We in Arizona have been more than patient, waiting for Washington to act.  But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation," she said.

Earlier, at the White House, President Obama said the Arizona legislation is the kind of irresponsibility that could result if the U.S. government does not act responsibly on immigration. "And that includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," he said.

Mr. Obama said the Justice Department will look at the new Arizona law to determine whether it is legal, and whether it might violate people's civil rights. "In fact, I have instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation, but if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country," he said.

Civil rights activists have said the bill would lead to Hispanics being targeted by police because of their race.  Hundreds of Hispanics protested the legislation at the state capitol in Phoenix on Thursday.

Before signing the bill, Brewer said she has worked with state lawmakers to ensure that the legislation will respect people's civil rights. "I will not tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona," she said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that more than 10 million people are in the country illegally, 460,000 of them in Arizona.  Thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans enter the U.S. illegally through the state.

President Obama said the controversy over the legislation should push U.S. lawmakers of both parties to reform national immigration policies. "I will continue to consult with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and I would note that 11 current Republican Senators voted to pass immigration reform four years ago.  I am hopeful that they will join with Democrats in doing so again, so we can make the progress the American people deserve," he said.

At a naturalization ceremony for members of the U.S. military, Mr. Obama said businesses should obey immigration law and not undermine American workers.

The president also said illegal immigrants should pay their back taxes, admit responsibility for breaking the law, pay a penalty, learn English and pass criminal background checks, before they can get in line and eventually earn citizenship.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

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.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

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 After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

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 Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

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.

VOA Blogs