US Catholic Faith in Real Life

What has Arizona wrought?

By Father Tom Joyce, CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The enactment of the tough anti-immigration law in Arizona has created an enormous stir throughout the country. It has enraged Hispanics, created talk of an exodus of Hispanics from the state, given new fodder for later night TV comics, and aroused immigration and civil rights lawyers to run to court to stop implementation due in late July or early August.

The president has denounced it and the Justice Department is thinking about blocking it in the courts. The Democrats issued an outline of their still unfinished proposals for comprehensive reform (see NY Times). The U.S. Catholic bishops have called it an "important first step" in the process of achieving enactment of comprehensive reform legislation.

Calls for boycotting anything Arizona – even the All Star game in 2011 – have come from everywhere. Los Angeles and San Francisco city governments are contemplating a no-business-with-Arizona policy. A national lawyers groups has pulled a convention from Arizona and other groups are contemplating their business elsewhere. There already has been an application for a referendum on the November ballot undoing SB 1070.  

Not all reaction to the law has been negative, though. A quick poll found 70 percent of Arizona voters favored it. Gov. Jan Brewer who signed it has enhanced her popularity and her chances of election to a full term in November. She dismissed all the badmouthing of the bill -- that it would encourage racial profiling in its enforcement or isolate the state and hurt its economy.

Arizona also has picked up imitators. A Republican state senator will introduce a look-a-like bill in Texas and Republican candidates for governor in Colorado and Minnesota promise to do the same in their states (see NY Times).

The big issue is whether the law has restarted a push for comprehensive immigration reform. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) wants to take up a measure before the November elections. He pushed aside the energy bill and soured Sen. Lindsey Graham’s effort to work with the Democrats on climate change and immigration. The battle for immigration reform will be as monumental as for health care – along with other fights in the Senate on financial reform, the budget and a Supreme Court nomination – and so President Barrack Obama is skeptical about this year (see LA Times ).

In any instance, SB1070 is going to court. Advocates of immigrants will move quickly to get an injunction against implementing the law. A formal trial will first challenge the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that immigration is the business of the federal government. Then it will be challenged as racial profiling or because of its vague language (see Chicago Tribune ). Still the author of the bill, Professor Kris W. Kobach, defends its constitutionality (see NY Times).

SB 1070 has stirred the nation. Twenty-four activists, chanting "Illinois is not Arizona, were arrested in Broadview, Ill. after they blocked a sheriff's van carrying detainees to a Wisconsin jail. And demonstrators will picket outside Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs have an afternoon game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Saturday, May 1st, is expected to see monster demonstrations across the country (see LA Times).