Arizona Immigration Law: The War of Words Continues

The war of words over Arizona’s new immigration law continues unabated. In all of the noise and bombast that have surrounded the measure, perhaps we should recall the crux of the measure. The new law expressly requires state and local law enforcement officials to ask about immigration status any time they lawfully stop, detain, or arrest a person, and allows police to arrest – without warrant – people they suspect are lawfully deportable from the United States. (We are indebted here to the excellent summary of the law, prepared by the Immigration Policy Center, Q&A Guide to Arizona’s New Immigration Law, by Mary Giovagnoli et al.)

According to the Washington Post, protests against the new law have gained support from some pop-cultural icons like Carlos Santana and Willie Nelson, who have recorded songs to support the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, including a track called “Si Se Puede,” which roughly translates to “Yes, We Can!” – long a rallying cry for the Latino community, and one picked up by Barack Obama on the campaign trail. (See Stars Band Together to Protest Arizona Law, by Reed Johnson, Washington Post, 06.Jun.2010.) Several other leading musicians, including Shakira, Sonic Youth, Kanye West, and others, have lent their names to a boycott of Arizona, in protest of S.B. 1070, the Washington Post reports.

In other boycott news, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently voted to sever many important economic ties with Arizona, suspending official travel, terminating contracts, and dumping Arizona state and municipal bonds from the county pension fund, according to the L.A. Times. (See: “L.A. County Votes to Boycott Arizona Over Immigration Law, by Garrett Therolf and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, 02.Jun.2010.) The boycott is not absolute, according to the LA Times article, allowing the county’s chief executive to waive the travel ban if county interests would be seriously harmed. The LA Times reports that the county has done approximately $122 million worth of business in Arizona over the past five years.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Arizona law are trying to rally their own troops in public to show that the new law is “the will of the people,” according to another article in the LA Times, (See Ramping Up Praise for Arizona Crackdown,” by Nicholas Riccardi, Los Angeles Times, 05.Jun.2010.) The only problem is, the supporters have failed dismally to turn out anywhere near the number of demonstrators that opponents have mustered on the streets of Arizona since the bill passed. That ought to send a message.

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