SOC/315 Cultural Diversity
February 5, 2011
Article by LAUREN A.E. SCHUKER
PHOENIX, Ariz.—The shooting of a law-enforcement officer in Arizona's South Central Desert by people officials suspect are drug smugglers has fueled further disagreement over Arizona's new immigration law. Proponents and critics of the legislation have used the crime, committed Friday by people who the Pinal County Sheriff's office say may have gained illegal entry to the U.S., to argue their sides in a growing debate over how the state, and the country, should control its borders. Many detractors of the new law, set to take effect in late July or August, spent the weekend protesting in symbolic May Day rallies across the state Demonstrators protesting Arizona's new immigration law clasp hands in front of a police line during a May Day rally in Phoenix on Saturday. Critics say that Friday's shooting reflects how border control—to prevent rampant drug smuggling often connected to violent crime in the state—stands as a more-pressing issue for Arizona than sniffing out illegal immigrants working quietly in the state's cities. "Border crime should be the hot-button issue," says Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, an opponent of the law who is running for governor. "That is very different than picking up very small offenders on the streets of Tucson who are here without papers but are in no way part of organized crime." Meantime, supporters of the law seized on the shooting of Pinal County Sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll, 53 years old, in an isolated area south of Phoenix as evidence of why tough new measures, such as the immigration law, are needed to tamp down illegal immigration. Widely considered the toughest measure on illegal immigration in decades, Senate Bill 1070—which Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law last month—makes the failure to carry immigration documents illegal and gives police the power to detain people they suspect of being in the country illegally. "What happened Friday put an exclamation mark on Senate Bill 1070," says Jason Rose, a Republican political consultant. "It's a real-world example of what elites who are condemning the bill don't understand about what life is like in this state." Meanwhile, the debate is costing some cities in Arizona money since the law has triggered a widespread boycott. Thousands gathered on Saturday to protest the new law and rally for immigration reform. In Phoenix, some 8,000 people rallied downtown, carrying signs denouncing Ms. Brewer and asking questions such as, "What does an illegal alien look like?" Other protestors donned t-shirts reading "Legalize Arizona. "Alex Rodriguez, a 20-year-old community-college student living in Mesa, Ariz., traveled to down town Phoenix on Saturday night with his father, mother and 10-year-old brother to protest the law. He says the law will force him and his family to move out of the state. Hailing originally from Mexico, Mr. Rodriguez and his family have lived in Arizona illegally for the past 10 years. "We came tonight because we have to stop this law from happening," he says. "It will prevent us from being able to walk down the street. It makes me afraid just to, say, wave my hand out of fear that somebody will stop me." Mr. Rodriguez says he has talked with his parents, a house cleaner and handyman, about moving to California or New Mexico if the law takes effect.
The largest demonstrations took place outside Arizona, however. Some 50,000 people gathered in Los Angeles, demanding that President Barack Obama tackle immigration reform. "The debate comes down to two questions—what happens when a cop pulls over a Latino for no reason and what happens when an illegal immigrant shoots an innocent person," Mr. Rose says. "The latter happened on Friday, and it has absolutely poured lighter fluid on" the right wing. Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, who is running for Arizona...