Arizona's Reaction to the Stalled Immigration Debate

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In Arizona, both sides in the immigration debate have taken to the streets, pushing competing proposals. Now that Congress has failed to pass any new immigration laws, what's the reaction on the street?


The fact that Congress hasn't come to a resolution on immigration hasn't cooled the issue across the country. Pro-immigrant forces plan mass demonstrations for Monday. Smaller groups on the other side are out trying to catch illegal immigrants near the border. NPR's Ted Robbins got their reactions to the week's events in Washington, D.C.

TED ROBBINS reporting:

Like the rest of the country, activists on both sides of the immigration debate are left with the status quo.

In some ways, that's a relief, at least to pro-immigrant activist Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network in Arizona.

Ms. JENNIFER ALLEN (Border Action Network): It's actually better for us that they did not pass something. Or at least that they did not pass what they were considering passing.

ROBBINS: She says the compromise being considered was unrealistic. It would have asked illegal immigrants here less than five years to turn themselves in and those here less than two years to leave.

Ms. ALLEN: People are not going to run the risk that they can't get back when their families are here. They've been going to school, they work here, their lives are here. And that is the reality.

ROBBINS: Yet she and others say the status quo is not adequate either, as people continue to die in the desert or live in the underground economy.

The other side is also not happy with the status quo. Groups like the Minutemen want existing law enforced and border security tightened. Minuteman spokesperson Connie Hair says she's disappointed that the Senate didn't have the resolve to do either because of politics.

Ms. CONNIE HAIR (Spokesperson, Minutemen): Both sides are courting the Hispanic vote without an eye to the people who will not vote for them or will stay home because they are so disgusted with the politics that's being injected into this entire process.

ROBBINS: The Minutemen say they'll continue their April patrols along the border, spotting illegal crossers. Pro-immigrant activists say Monday's marches across the country are now even more important. Jennifer Allen says the marches will show senators immigrants' strength and solidarity.

Ms. ALLEN: The senators are all going to be in their home states. So each local community then needs to get their people out onto the street to send a very clear and direct message to those senators while they're home.

ROBBINS: The Senate gave up for now, but activists say they'll keep pushing for their competing versions of immigration reform. Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson.

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