Opponents Take To Streets As Parts Of Arizona Immigration Law Take Effect Opponents took to the streets of Phoenix as parts of the immigration-enforcement law that were not blocked by a federal judge went into effect Thursday. At least 50 people were arrested throughout the day in acts of civil disobedience.
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Protests Of Arizona Immigration Law Lead To Arrests

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Protests Of Arizona Immigration Law Lead To Arrests

Protests Of Arizona Immigration Law Lead To Arrests

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The state of Arizona is fighting for its new immigration law. The intent of the legislation is to keep illegal immigrants out of the state, but a federal district judge says that's a federal function and she blocked key elements of the measure. Now the state has asked an appeals court to reverse the judge and let the whole law take effect.

NPR's Ted Robbins tells us that the portions of the law not blocked did take effect yesterday, while its opponents took to the streets of Phoenix.

(Soundbite of protest)

TED ROBBINS: Even though Judge Susan Bolton blocked substantial sections of the new law from taking effect Thursday, the protests against the law had been long planned, and people had traveled far.

Methodist pastor Laurel Scott came from Connecticut. She held a yellow sign saying Standing On the Side of Love. She marched down Washington Street in downtown Phoenix to fight the Arizona law and to keep it from spreading.

Reverend LAUREL SCOTT (Protester): We hoped to see how we can react when inevitably this issue comes up in the New England region and how the church ought to respond.

ROBBINS: Dan Moore came from Cincinnati. He objects to any law which, he says, stands in the way of comprehensive federal immigration reform, including rights for illegal immigrants.

Mr. DAN MOORE (Protester): And I think our presence here is showing them here -in the heart of kind of the conflict in this country around immigration - that people aren't afraid and they aren't intimidated by threats of deportation and raids(ph).

ROBBINS: As the day went on, the march turned into a standing protest in a city park, then into resistance.

(Soundbite of protest)

ROBBINS: Phoenix police in riot gear moved people out of the street. Then, one by one, people went back into the street and were arrested in acts of civil disobedience. At least 50 people were arrested throughout the day.

Not many supporters of SB 1070 showed up, but one of its strongest defenders made his presence felt - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Mr. PAUL SANCHEZ: He's still terrorizing our communities.

ROBBINS: Phoenix resident Paul Sanchez says having only a partial law isn't stopping Arpaio from continuing his signature crime-suppression operations, which target illegal immigrants.

Mr. SANCHEZ: So, therefore, we must continue this, this struggle, this fight, until full justice is served and until 1070 is no more complete.

ROBBINS: In fact, later in the day protesters moved to the Maricopa County Jail, where they blocked the entrance and were also arrested. Sheriff Arpaio spoke to reporters at his training center west of downtown Phoenix.

Sheriff JOE ARPAIO (Maricopa County, Arizona): We're not going to let protesters hold this sheriff and my office hostage because they don't want us to book people into the jail.

ROBBINS: The sheriff was forced to delay the start of his planned immigration sweep for four hours until things calmed down at the jail. Then about 200 deputies and volunteer posse members eventually went ahead, despite SB 1070 being only partially in effect.

Mr. ARPAIO: 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: Arpaio said he was mainly using an older Arizona law which makes it a crime to smuggle immigrants.

The legal battle over the new law moved to a federal appeals court. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's attorneys filed a motion to lift the temporary restraining order, including the requirement that officers during a stop check the immigration status of anyone they believe is an illegal immigrant.

The state asked the appeals court to hold a hearing no later than mid-September. Last night the Justice Department asked the court for more time to prepare its arguments.

Ted Robbins, NPR News.


Arizona's neighbor, Colorado, is struggling with its own immigration issues. Colorado's governor is trying to decide whether or not to adopt a program that traces the immigration history of people who are arrested. The program is called Secure Communities. It includes a database of fingerprints and was started elsewhere two years ago.

It's been implemented in states that include Virginia, Florida and Delaware.

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