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Know Your Rights
Source: Queens Courier
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Opposition to Arizona Immigration Law Grows

The enactment of a recent immigration law in Arizona has many local organizations and community leaders up in arms with calls to the President to hurry and fix the nation’s immigration system.

“The time to fix the broken immigration system is now,” said Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, a Jackson Heights organization. “President Obama, do not allow xenophobia to define the immigration debate.”

Their reaction, and of many others locally, arose after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB 1070 on Friday, April 23, and gave local law enforcement officials the ability to detain people for criminal trespass which they reasonably suspected to be undocumented whether in private or public spaces. The law also criminalized the act of not carrying immigration documents.

“This bill does not address comprehensive immigration reform,” said State Senator Jose Peralta alongside Reverend Al Sharpton and Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez. “Instead it will restrict civil rights and further marginalize immigrant communities.”

According to LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a legal advocacy organization, such laws violate due process and eventually have been found to be unconstitutional in the federal district courts.

In other cases, towns and cities have withdrawn similar ordinances that denied public services or penalized homeowners who rented to the undocumented because of the costs to defend the law in the courts.

However Sameer Ashar, a professor in immigration law and head of the immigration clinic at the CUNY School of Law, said that a state like Arizona has “shown willingness to pass laws and fight these cases for the short-term political benefit.”

Ashar explained that “even though it’s just an Arizona law, it will make immigrants across the nation fearful of interacting with officers and that’s bad for everyone.”

“It’s a really bad misallocation of police resources,” he said.

President Barack Obama, at a naturalization ceremony in the Rose Garden of The White House, publicly criticized the law and said the Arizona measure would “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.”

Obama acknowledged, “Our failure to act responsibly at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others.”

However, not everyone found Brewer’s action to be irresponsible.

“Faced with mounting costs, lost jobs and violent crime resulting from mass illegal immigration, Governor Brewer has acted responsibly to protect Arizonans,” said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).