A 51st State? Some In Arizona Want A Split Arizona's immigration law enjoys widespread support — but the support is by no means unanimous. In southern Arizona, some people are so unhappy with the direction the state has taken that they want to create their own state.
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A 51st State? Some In Arizona Want A Split

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A 51st State? Some In Arizona Want A Split

A 51st State? Some In Arizona Want A Split

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ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

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

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

The state of Arizona is taking the fight over its controversial immigration bill to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, Governor Jan Brewer said she will ask the High Court to overturn a lower court ruling that put key parts of the measure on hold.

JAN BREWER: I am confident Arizona will prevail in its fight to protect our citizens. Remember, we are in that position because of the federal government's failure to secure our border and enforce immigration laws.

SIEGEL: NPR's Ted Robbins tells us about the effort to form Baja Arizona.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

TOM BOWMAN: If you want to find people who don't like Republican-controlled Arizona government, step inside the Shanty. It's a favorite bar for Tucson Democrats. David Euchner is set-up just inside the door to catch patrons before they have a drink after work.

DAVID EUCHNER: Unidentified Man #1: Amen.

BOWMAN: But Start our State Co-Chair Paul Eckerstrom says he'd be satisfied if just the local resolution passed. Eckerstrom is the former chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party.

PAUL ECKERSTROM: If we do this vote, at least we can send a message not only to the state legislature, but also to the rest of the nation to tell the rest of the nation that not everybody in Arizona is crazy.

BOWMAN: Politically, the Tucson metro area has long been more moderate than other parts of the state. The University of Arizona plays a big role here, so do government workers. And Southern Arizona was part of Mexico until 1854. So Eckerstrom says it's more culturally integrated.

ECKERSTROM: We have a long history in terms of our Native American and Spanish colonial and Hispanic culture that we celebrate here. While up in Phoenix, they don't seem to have that.

BOWMAN: Republican State Representative John Kavanagh helped pass many of those laws. He says the legislature is just doing what it thinks is right.

JOHN KAVANAGH: We pass laws based upon what we believe the people of Arizona want.

BOWMAN: Kavanagh says the effort to split the state is just Democratic sour grapes.

KAVANAGH: Unidentified Group: Fight Back.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

BOWMAN: Activists like Salomon Baldenegro say Arizona in 2011 is becoming more like Mississippi in the 1960s, with Hispanics replacing blacks as the focus of discrimination.

SALOMON BALDENEGRO: I mean it seems like an exaggeration, but if you're in our shoes, same attitude. They're not lynching us, but the attitude toward blacks that was existing then is the atmosphere that's here now.

BOWMAN: Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson.

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