Arizona Illegal Immigration Law
Arizona’s sweeping new immigration law has prompted lawmakers in nearly 20 other states to seek passage of similar laws in 2011: current examples are California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas.
The Arizona law requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they think is in the country illegally when observing them in the possible violation of a misdemeanor or felony. Violators face up to six months in jail and $2,500 in fines, in addition to federal deportation. “If the feds won’t do it, Arizona and other states are saying, ‘We’re going to have to do it.'”
Arizona, a state of 6.6 million with an estimated 486,000 illegal immigrants, has been affected by the issue more than other states In three years, U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona arrested nearly 1 million illegal immigrants, about half of all arrests on U.S. borders. More slipped past, fueling a smuggling industry that has been blamed for a steady rise in kidnappings and immigrant safehouses.
President Barack Obama has called Arizona’s law irresponsible in terms of racial profiling and has ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to file suit against Arizona claiming the law is unconstitutional. But Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer continues to support the law and points out that it has already helped Arizona by prompting President Obama to send 1,200 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexican border.
Business, agriculture and civil rights groups oppose such legislation, saying legal residents who are Hispanic would be unjustly harassed and that immigration is a federal rather than a state responsibility. Supporters say police will not stop people solely on the basis of skin color and argue that illegal immigrants are draining state coffers by taking jobs, using public services, fueling gang violence and filling prisons.
Also lining up against state-by-state legislation are business and agriculture groups. Brent Olmstead, lobbyist for Idaho’s $2 billion dairy industry, pledged to work to kill Arizona-style reforms in Idaho in 2011 just as he did to block past bills seeking to punish companies that hire illegal workers.
The debate is putting pressure on Congress and the Obama administration to revive immigration reform debate despite the failure of President Bush to pass similar comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. That law would have increased border enforcement while providing a rigorous path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Students should create a report of at least 150 words, or a presentation of at least seven slides (links to models provided at end of activity) that cites at least three resources. Students should use the pathfinders listed below for best results.
Students should address the following essential questions for critical thinking (you can create or substitute others):
- What are the major reasons for the increasing number of illegal aliens entering the U.S.?
- Will the Arizona law (and other states) work in stopping the spread of illegal immigration–why or why not?
- Is the Arizona law constitutional–why or why not?
- How can comprehensive immigration reform address and resolve this problem?
- What is the danger in the appearance of racial profiling?
Pathfinder- Using SIRSKnowledge Source
Select the Advanced Search option > Type “Arizona” in box #1 > Click Title, “immigration” in box #2 > Enter “law” in box #3 > Check Sort by DATE > SEARCH