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Lawsuits, anger spotlight Arizona immigration law

By JONATHAN J. COOPER and PAUL DAVENPORT
April 29, 2010

(AFP)

Anger mounted Thursday over an Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration as a police officer filed one of the first lawsuits challenging the law and activists gathered outside an Arizona Diamondbacks game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, chanting “Boycott Arizona.”

The lawsuit from 15-year Tucson police veteran Martin Escobar is one of two filed Thursday, less than a week after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the law that’s sparked fears it will lead to racial profiling despite the governor’s vow that officers will be properly trained.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government may challenge the law, which requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

Escobar, an overnight patrol officer in a heavily Latino area of Tucson, argues there’s no way for officers to confirm people’s immigration status without impeding investigations, and that the new law violates numerous constitutional rights.

Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Fabian Pacheco said Escobar is acting on his own, not on behalf of the department.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders also filed a lawsuit Thursday, and is seeking an injunction preventing authorities from enforcing the law. The group argues federal law pre-empts state regulation of national borders, and that Arizona’s law violates due process rights by letting police detain suspected illegal immigrants before they’re convicted.

“Mexican-Americans are not going to take this lying down,” singer Linda Ronstadt, a Tucson native, said at a state Capitol news conference on another lawsuit planned by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center.

At least three Arizona cities — Phoenix, Flagstaff and Tucson — are considering legal action to block the law. In Flagstaff, police are investigating a threatening e-mail sent to members of the city council over their opposition to the law. The author said council members should be “arrested, tried in court, found guilty of treason and hanged from the nearest tree!”

About 40 immigrant rights activists gathered outside Wrigley Field in Chicago Thursday as the Cubs open a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. A small plane toting a banner criticizing the law circled the stadium, and activist George Lieu said they’ve sent a letter to Cubs management asking them to stop holding spring training in Arizona.

A Cubs spokesman declined to comment. Arizona manager A.J. Hinch says the team is there to play baseball.

On Wednesday, a group filed papers to launch a referendum drive that could put the law on hold until 2012, when voters could decide whether it is repealed.

The legislation’s chief sponsor, Republican Rep. Russell Pearce, said he has no doubt voters will support the new law at the ballot box, which would then protect it from repeal by the Legislature. In Arizona, measures approved by voters can only be repealed at the ballot box.

Meanwhile, the effect of the law continued to ripple beyond Arizona.

A group of conservative state lawmakers in Oklahoma are considering pushing a bill similar to Arizona’s. In Texas, Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican, said she will introduce a measure similar to the Arizona law in the January legislative session. And Republicans running for governor in Colorado and Minnesota expressed support for the crackdown. “I’d do something very similar” if elected,” Former Rep. Scott McInnis, told KHOW-AM radio in Denver.

Denver Public Schools is banning work-related travel to Arizona. Even though school employees are in the country legally, DPS spokesman Kristy Armstrong said officials don’t want them to be “subjected to that kind of scrutiny and search.”

Retired South African archbishop Desmond Tutu also chimed in, saying he supports the idea of a boycott of Arizona businesses, according to a letter he wrote that was posted Wednesday on TheCommunity.com, a website for Nobel peace laureates that promotes peace and human rights.

“I recognize that Arizona has become a widening entry point for illegal immigration from the South … but a solution that degrades innocent people, or that makes anyone with broken English a suspect, is not a solution,” Tutu said.

Colombian singer Shakira planned to visit Phoenix on Thursday to meet with the city’s police chief and mayor over her concerns that the law would lead to racial profiling.

___

Associated Press Writer Mark Carlson contributed to this report.

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6 Responses to Lawsuits, anger spotlight Arizona immigration law

  1. Keith

    April 29, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    …and so it begins….

  2. b mcclellan

    April 29, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    What a load of crap with a capital Cee. If the federal laws were upheld in the first place we would not be having this conversation. Understaffed, lackadaisical, and poorly focused enforcement is unacceptable and rampant throughout our judicial system.
    Example, John Woo is a law professor at U.C. Berkeley !
    This is not some feel good help Grandma cross the street situation and you won’t be anymore deserving by feeling sorry for those that break the very laws you are expected to abide by. We simply cannot afford to absorb more than the law mandates per year.
    That’s why the system was put in place dang it.
    If you are here without proper documentation then you are breaking Federal immigration law. You need to be shown the door along with the proper place to apply for legal status.
    But first of all, with respect and dignity we will show you the egress back to your point of origin with a pocket guide titled Democracy and how to fight for it along with a copy of the immigration laws of the United States.
    It’s the old and rusty cliche that comes to mind .
    Everyone wants to get to heaven but none are willing to die.
    For Christ sake, do we really believe that those not willing to sacrifice and build a working republic in their own land will improve ours? That’s just plain and simple instant gratification with no long lasting benevolent results.

    P.S. Dear Mr Phillipe Calderon, El Presidente de Mexico. STFU.

    • woody188

      April 29, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      Yes that Calderon character is quite a piece of work. Takes some balls to say that Arizona law is racist when they are running from his country.

      • b mcclellan

        April 30, 2010 at 12:17 am

        The Whitehosers/ Whitehouse have all the bells ringing Woody, whilst fogging the established rule of law they bring the puppets into play with the finely tuned strings that will hang as an Albatross,” liberty seeking souls “, around our necks as some form antiquated thought..

        We are no longer in danger we are overrun.

        When the President of the United States , fails to rebuff, and nae makes it clear to a foreign national you have no power here.
        We are undone.

        I’ve been waiting for response to Phillipe from the Whitewash/house and pissed is in the bottom where my cowering alter ego resides.

        Yoda said, backed into a corner are we. Embrace the ignorance or you will never understand it’s form and function, but if you do, then at least it will be a fair fight.

        Pop said, plow plant, pull the weeds, and attack the thistle patch from the lowest point…Kcah

  3. b mcclellan

    April 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Dear Mr Tutu, if you drive on our roads and are stopped for a moving violation,
    you Sir, will be required to produce papers of personal and motor vehicular veracity just as any law abiding citizen of these United States is required to do.

    Stick that in your harem and condom it.

  4. Keith

    April 30, 2010 at 7:18 am

    b mcclellan wrote: “If the federal laws were upheld in the first place we would not be having this conversation. Understaffed, lackadaisical, and poorly focused enforcement is unacceptable and rampant throughout our judicial system.”

    —————

    Yet more simplistic “solutions” to an extremely complex problem.

    How many CENTURIES now we have been trying in this country (without any measurable degree of success) to stop illegal immigration along our southern border by erecting more and more walls, enacting yet MORE racist laws or stepping up “enforcement”?

    Indeed, as Albert Einstein once noted, “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

    Clearly, if “more enforcement” by the feds could have stopped the hoards of people now wanting “in” to our country illegally by “upholding federal laws”, they would have done so LONG ago!

    The truth is that they CAN’T.

    And adding more “enforcement”, or building more walls (or passing yet MORE inherently racist laws that don’t work) isn’t going to correct the problem…not without ALSO turning our once proud and free nation into yet MORE of an “armed camp” than it already is.

    I have absolutely NO doubt that this new Arizona immigration law WILL eventually be struck down as unconstitutional because, besides being blatantly racist, it attempts to usurp federal responsibilities under the US Constitution. Indeed, those lawsuits have already started.

    However, that said, our absolutely arcane FEDERAL immigration laws ALSO need to be streamlined so as to help speed up the process of OPENING UP our borders to LEGAL immigrants. Indeed, the vast majority of 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, for most of our history, the United States of America has been a nation largely made up of immigrants. Indeed, if we all go back far enough, most of us have familial roots 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 complaining 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” into tax-paying, landed immigrants or…better yet…US CITIZENS.

    And all that blather about them taking jobs away from other Americans is just more racist bigotry. The more people we have in our country, the more jobs are created, which, in turn, generates more tax revenues. A “rising tide lifts all boats”.

    But then again, when have innovative ideas for deficit reduction and job creation ever gotten in the way of racist bigotry?