PHOENIX – Civil rights advocates vowed Saturday to challenge Arizona’s tough new law targeting illegal immigration, saying it will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics despite the governor’s assurance abuses won’t be tolerated.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill that supporters said would take handcuffs off police in dealing with illegal immigration in Arizona, the nation’s busiest gateway for human and drug smuggling from Mexico and home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.
The law requires police to question people about their immigration status – including asking for identification – if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. It’s sparked fears among legal immigrants and U.S. citizens that they’ll be hassled by police just because they look Hispanic.
Opponents of the law lingered at the state Capitol Saturday morning. Others gathered in Tucson outside the campaign headquarters of U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat who called on businesses and groups looking for convention and meeting locations to boycott Arizona. Grijalva said his staff was flooded with phone calls week, some from people threatening violent acts and shouting racial slurs.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association announced it would move its September conference from Scottsdale, Ariz., to another state.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund said it plans a legal challenge to the law, which it said “launches Arizona into a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation, with nationwide repercussions.”