'Immigration Hardliners' in AZ Draw 'Scorn' From Unidentified Opponents

Thursday's National section led with "Arizona Lawmakers Push New Round of Immigration Restrictions." Phoenix Bureau Chief Marc Lacey did not sound pleased with the prospect, pitting unidentified opponents against "immigration hardliners." Never mind that the proposals would target illegal immigration, not legal immigration.

Illegal immigrants would be barred from driving in the state, enrolling in school or receiving most public benefits. Their children would receive special birth certificates that would make clear that the state does not consider them Arizona citizens.

Some of the bills, like those restricting immigrants' access to schooling and right to state citizenship, flout current federal law and are being put forward to draw legal challenges in hopes that the Supreme Court might rule in the state's favor.

Arizona drew considerable scorn last year when it passed legislation compelling police officers to inquire about the immigration status of those they stopped whom they suspected were in the country illegally. Critics said the law would lead to racial profiling of Latinos, and a federal judge agreed that portions of the law, known as Senate Bill 1070, were unconstitutional.


Despite boycotts and accusations that the state has become a haven of intolerance, Arizona won plaudits last year from immigration hardliners across the country. On Tuesday night, the Indiana Senate voted to allow its police officers to question people stopped for infractions on their immigration status, one of numerous proposals inspired by Arizona's law.

"If you are ever going to stop this invasion, and it is an invasion, you have to quit rewarding people for breaking those laws," said State Senator Russell Pearce, the Senate president, who is leading Arizona's effort to try to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they stop coming, or leave.

Opponents said the changes were a drastic rewriting of the core values of the country. In Tucson, a community group was so enraged by what it called the extremist nature of the proposals from Phoenix that it proposed severing the state in two, creating what some call Baja Arizona.

Lacey's sympathies don't seem to lie with the "immigration hardliners." From an October 31, 2010 story on how Arizona's earlier attempt at immigration enforcement had divided one married couple:

Because he serves summonses for a living, owning his own business, Mr. Sotelo tends to be the law-and-order type. Because she has taught the children of illegal immigrants and sees how hard-edged policies affect real people, Mrs. Sotelo tends to be more willing to give.