Congressman urges feds to fight Arizona’s Gestapo immigration law

Rep. Raul Grijalva (AP)

An Arizona congressman urged the Obama administration not to cooperate when illegal immigrants are picked up by local police if a tough new state immigration law survives legal challenges.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, and civil rights activists spoke on Sunday to thousands of people gathered at the state Capitol and called on President Barack Obama to fight the law, promising to march in the streets and invite arrest by refusing to comply.

“We’re going to overturn this unjust and racist law, and then we’re going to overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law,” Grijalva said.

Obama has called the new law “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it’s legal. It requires police to question people about their immigration status — including asking for identification — if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. Opponents say it would lead to racial profiling because officers would be more likely to ask people who look Hispanic.

Supporters have dismissed concerns about profiling, saying the law prohibits the use of race or nationality as the sole basis for an immigration check. Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure Friday, has ordered state officials to develop a training course for officers to learn what constitutes reasonable suspicion someone is in the U.S. illegally.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who sponsored the legislation, said it’s “pretty disappointing” that opponents would call on the federal government to refuse to cooperate with Arizona authorities.

“It’s outrageous that these people continue to support law breakers over law keepers,” Pearce said Sunday.

Protesters, some of whom came from as far away as Texas, clustered under trees for shelter from Arizona’s searing sun and temperatures that approached 90 degrees. Police said it was peaceful and there were no clashes.

Bill Baker, 60, took time off work at a downtown Phoenix restaurant to sell umbrellas and Mexican and American flags to the largely Hispanic crowd. He said he wasn’t making much money, but he wanted to help them exercise their freedom of expression — even though he supports the law they all showed up to oppose.

“If I go to another foreign country, if I go to Mexico, I have to have papers,” Baker said. “So I don’t feel there’s anything particularly harsh about the law.”

He said he’s worried the bill will hurt the economy if many of Arizona’s estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants leave the state and stop spending money here.

“But that’s the price you have to pay to have a lawful country,” Baker said.

Current law in Arizona and most states doesn’t require police to ask about the immigration status of those they encounter, and many police departments prohibit officers from inquiring out of fear immigrants won’t cooperate in other investigations.

The new law makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. Immigrants unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the U.S. could be arrested, jailed for up to six months and fined $2,500. Other provisions allow lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and the law makes it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

Arizona officers would arrest people found to be undocumented and turn them over to federal immigration officers. Opponents said the federal government can block the law by refusing to accept them.

“Our message today is: ‘Mr. President we listened, and we came out in record massive numbers to support you,'” said U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. “We need you to support us today.”

Gutierrez is one of the nation’s loudest voices calling for comprehensive immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants now in the United States. He called on Obama to live up to a campaign promise to pass immigration reform.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking Sunday in New York, said that just as freedom riders battled segregation in the 1960s, he would organize “freedom walkers” to challenge the Arizona bill.

“We will go to Arizona when this bill goes into effect and walk the streets with people who refuse to give identification and force arrest,” Sharpton said.

Arizona’s border with Mexico is the nation’s busiest stretch for illegal border crossings. The state’s harsh, remote desert serves as the gateway to the U.S. for thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans.

“It divides our whole community,” said Mary Hoffmann, 54, a landscape architect in Phoenix. “If people are divided they make decisions on fear and anger.”

Brewer, who faces a tough re-election battle and growing anger in the state over illegal immigrants, said the law “protects every Arizona citizen” and the state must act because the federal government has failed. Brewer said she wouldn’t tolerate racial profiling.

The March 27 shooting death of rancher Rob Krentz on his property in southeastern Arizona brought illegal immigration and border security into greater focus in the state. Authorities believe Krentz was killed by an illegal border crosser.

Since the shooting, Brewer and other officeholders and candidates have toured the state’s border with Mexico. She has ordered a reallocation of state National Guard and law enforcement resources and called on the federal government to deploy National Guard troops.

___

Associated Press writers Karen Matthews in New York and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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15 Responses to "Congressman urges feds to fight Arizona’s Gestapo immigration law"

  1. woody188  April 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Seems reasonable to me. All the state law does is enforce what the Feds should already be doing. It’s not like there isn’t a path to legal citizenship already in place that the “runners” could follow and choose not to. Not like Congress has slowed or limited the worker VISA programs even during this “Great Recession.”

  2. keith  April 26, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I have absolutely NO doubt that the Arizona law will eventually be struck down as unconstitutional because, besides being blatantly racist, it attempts to usurp federal responsibilities under the US Constitution.

    However, that said, our absolutely arcane FEDERAL immigration laws ALSO need to be streamlined so as to speed up the process of opening up our borders to LEGAL immigrants. Indeed, these so-called “illegal” immigrants’ only “crime” is that they want to become full-fledged participants in the American dream… a dream that the rest of us already share.

    We often tend to forget that the United States of America was a nation largely made up of immigrants. Indeed, if we all go back far enough, most of us have familial roots somewhere in some other country besides the USA.

    I also find it fascinating that the same people who keep harping about “illegal immigration” are often the same ones bitching and moaning about how our government is now spending us into oblivion.

    It seems to me a good way to start reversing our ballooning government deficits would be to start looking for innovative ways to turn all of these so-called “illegals” (whose only “crime” is that they want to live and work here just like the rest of us) into tax-paying US CITIZENS.

    But then again, when have innovative ideas ever gotten in the way of racist bigotry?

    • woody188  April 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      Can you cite which portions are racist, or are you just regurgitating what you have been told?

      One has to be stopped for another crime before being asked to show documentation. Also, any law enforcement may now ask to see identification for any reason and you many not refuse or face arrest under the PATRIOT Act. So I doubt it will be struck down or they will have to end the PATRIOT Act as well.

      Most illegals actually do pay taxes, as they provide stolen Social Security numbers, but many do work for cash “under the table” as well. Their wages are so low, often less than minimum, as being “illegal” means open to abuse for lots of “employers.” Their taxes combined would not pay for a single Joint Strike Fighter, though it might cover one Predator drone.

      Can you just run across the border to Mexico or Canada and expect to take up a job?

      How about China or India?

      Just because we have a history of fairly open immigration doesn’t mean it should stay that way. That’s like saying we shouldn’t put up a fence to keep the wolves off our livestock, because there wasn’t one there before. We also used to marry at 13, worked 16 hours days starting at age 3 or 4, and would kill babies born deformed or diseased. Should we return to those practices?

    • Almandine  April 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm

      “It seems to me a good way to start reversing our ballooning government deficits would be to start looking for innovative ways to turn all of these so-called “illegals” (whose only “crime” is that they want to live and work here just like the rest of us) into tax-paying US CITIZENS.”

      Perhaps sending them home, ending their public financial supports, and putting US citizens to work in their stead would be even more effective, fiscally.

  3. bmclellan  April 26, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Ring that bell Al, loud and clear.

  4. Almandine  April 26, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    It’s hard to believe, Bryan, that our Pres gets up and says “ending illegal immigration,” aka amnesty, is a matter of “fairness” when it’s our citizens who are being screwed by that course of action. 20% unemployment (U6) and we’re needing immigrants to balance the books?

    Hey keith, we know it’s only the votes you guys are after.

  5. Pingback: What’s Spanish for “Gastarbeiter”? | WNYmedia.net

    • Almandine  April 27, 2010 at 8:48 am

      Interloper.

    • Carl Nemo  April 30, 2010 at 2:00 am

      I believe it’s “trabajador inmigrante” Alan. Thanks for the link.

      Carl Nemo **==

  6. Pingback: Open Letter to Liberal/Libertarian Friends: Arizona Immigration Law « The Right of the People

  7. erika morgan  April 30, 2010 at 1:52 am

    All the wasted energy, just instill real penalties like actual jail time on the employers who are mostly bonyfied US citizens (so the USof A actually does have some control over them) who commit the treasonous act of hiring illegals and walla problem solved.

    • Carl Nemo  April 30, 2010 at 2:14 am

      Hi Erika Moran,

      Thanks for your solid recommendation concerning this issue. I also recommend that you and my fellow site participants rent the documentaray “Food Inc” as to how a handful of corporations now control the world’s food supply not only through them, but their host of solely owned subsidiaries.

      The movie will cause even a strong man or woman cry for sure as to how these ruthless employers exploit illegal immigrants in order to plump their bottom line. Tyson, Monsanto, Cargill et al. through their subsidiaries staff their plants with illegals working under abject, dangerous conditions all to provide that which we see so presentably packaged in our local supermarket outlets.

      Watch the movie and it will fill in the blanks as to why we have an ‘illegal’ immigration problem in this country. It’s the big boys; ie., the moneyguys who also control their running dogs in Congress and the White House that are able to pull off this ongoing scam;; ie., blue sky, pirate capitalism at its worst.

      http://www.careersinfood.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/showResourcesLinks/CatID/30/meat-poultry-companies.htm

      Pull up a similar link for produce producers and you’ll find the the perps on the fruit and veggie side of this ugly equation.

      They refuse to be interviewed concerning their tactics and hiring practices and generally locate their chicken farm and processing plants in poverty stricken counties of this nation where they can control the body politic, law enforcement and the citizens through fear; ie, the summary loss of their subsistence level jobs

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Carl Nemo  April 30, 2010 at 2:17 am

        My apologies Erika for the typo on your last name. Should read “Morgan”.

        Carl Nemo **==

    • b mcclellan  April 30, 2010 at 2:27 am

      Dear erika , Personally no one on my tiny ledge is any less or more precariously pitched as the next.
      Make room, soon we’ll have the whole alphabet and not by default.
      Then sanity prevails, and the justice dept. put’s the boot of law to their backs while Jimmie page sings ,Whole lotta love..
      Come back when your legal.
      Pop said,
      That’s hard , but it’s the lay of the land.. Llamraf

  8. Bill  May 2, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I have posted this before, nut I feel it needs to be seen here also.
    I have nothing against LEGAL immigration. The fair way to do this is to require the person that is wanting to immigrate to have to follow the same rules as if an American wanted to immigrate to their country. I have nothing against Mexico, but I am going to use that country for an example.
    An American wishing to immigrate to Mexico must
    meet the following conditions.

    1. No criminal record (any criminal record
    and Mexico will not accept you as an immigrant)

    2. A pre-arranged place to live in Mexico

    3. 5 years guaranteed income of $1000/month
    for each pensioner and $500/month for each dependent

    4. You must promise not to take any job in Mexico

    5. You must provide your own health care insurance

    6. You must supply a doctor’s statement certifying that
    you do not have any communicable diseases (such
    as TB, AIDS, syphilis, etc.

    6. You are not allowed to own any Mexican real estate

    7. You must translate any documents requested by the
    Mexican Immigration office into Spanish at your own expense.

    Any non-Mexican caught crossing the southern border into
    Mexico will be beaten and or shot. Illegal immigrants to Mexico
    who survive apprehension by the Mexican Federales will serve
    several years in prison at hard labor and then be expelled from Mexico.

    Perhaps the US should implement reciprocity and apply to Mexican
    immigrants the same conditions that Mexico applies to immigrants.

    Just why is Mexican Government exhorting its citizens to migrate to
    the US anyways? What would happen to the Mexican Government
    if the US weren’t available as a dumping ground for surplus Mexicans?”

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