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Arizona Immigration Law Prompts Protests

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Arizona Immigration Law Prompts Protests

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Arizona Immigration Law Prompts Protests

Arizona Immigration Law Prompts Protests

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Michele Norris talks to NPR's Ted Robbins about protests in Phoenix and other parts of Arizona on Thursday. Thousands turned out to demonstrate, as parts of the state's tough new immigration law took effect. The key parts, however, were temporarily blocked by a federal judge on Wednesday.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Arizona's has asked the Ninth Circuit court to lift the injunction against key parts of its new immigration law.

That law went into effect today and NPRs Ted Robbins joins me now in Phoenix, where opponents of the law are out in full force. Ted, first bring us up to speed on where Arizonas law stands right now.

TED ROBBINS: Well, as you recall, yesterday, Judge Susan Bolton issued an injunction against some very important parts of the law. Today, the state went to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals to ask for that injunction to be lifted so that the entire law can take effect. The key parts are the ones mandating officers to check immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion that someone is in the country illegally during a stop and the requirement that legal residents carry their registration papers. Those are two of the most important measures that were blocked.

NORRIS: Many people were expecting a big showdown today between county sheriff Joe Arpaio and opponents of the law. At least for now the law that's gone into effect today is significantly watered down. So did that showdown still happen even with those changes?

ROBBINS: Yes. I mean, parts of the law are in effect, such as the requirement for police to cooperate with the Feds and the laws stated intent, which is to make things so tough in illegal immigrants that they leave the state on their own. Immigrants supporters are not swallowing that. They are out in force against those provisions, as well.

Now, Sheriff Arpaio had already scheduled one of his crime suppression operations around the Phoenix area. And those usually turn up about 60 percent of the people arrested turn out to be illegal immigrants, he says. Now, heres what he had to say.

Mr. JOE ARPAIO (Sheriff, Maricopa County): We were planning this two weeks ago, to do our 17th operation. On the other hand, I'm not going to lie, we did pick this day. And I said two weeks ago, it doesn't matter what the ruling is by the federal judge, that we're going to do it anyway.

ROBBINS: Now, Arpaio is going to use existing laws, as he has been doing, including one that allows him to arrest people who are accused of smuggling illegal immigrants.

NORRIS: Ted, have you also had a chance to talk to some of the protestors that were out there today? What have they been telling you?

ROBBINS: Well, and you know, thats they come from all over. Some 11 buses, Im told, came from the Los Angeles area. And thats been planned for some time, so thats why theyre here. They werent going to stop their, you know, stop their trip, frankly.

I met people from California, New Mexico, Texas, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York. In fact, heres Mary Ann Ruiz who came from Brooklyn to protest because shes worried about the spread of similar laws to other states.

Ms. MARY ANN RUIZ: Well, I hope that we'll stop SB1070 and that I hope that well stop it from spreading to other states 'cause it's spreading across other states right now.

(Soundbite of protest)

Unidentified Man: (unintelligible)

ROBBINS: Now, the protests were peaceful, though, several dozen people at least have been arrested for acts of civil disobedience crossing police lines, blocking the jail entrance. But events have been going on since dawn and are expected to go on through the evening, including a rock concert outside the jail.

NORRIS: Before I let you go, very quickly Ted, whats next for the Arizona law and similar laws planned around the country?

ROBBINS: Well, a number of other states are waiting to see exactly what happens here with the Arizona law. And police departments in Arizona and other sheriffs departments have been waiting to see, as well, and I think theyre still waiting to see what happens so they know exactly how they can enforce.

NORRIS: Thank you, Ted.

ROBBINS: You're welcome.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Ted Robbins, joining us from Phoenix, Arizona.

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