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After Arizona Immigration Ruling, Panic And Protests

Jun 27, 2012
Originally published on June 27, 2012 5:51 pm

When the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona's immigration law this week, it left standing a provision requiring police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. The ruling has already created a chilling effect in the state, and it has sparked protests.

Protesters against Senate Bill 1070 stand in front of the Arizona state building in Tucson holding signs saying "Reject Racism" and "Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote." Patricia Carpio's sign says "Resistencia."

"[It] means ... we're not going to put up with this. It's just not going to happen. Just like the civil rights movement, we're just taking it a whole different way," Carpio says.

They're handing out fliers announcing meetings for the Coalition to Resist and Repeal SB 1070. The protesters are emboldened by the Supreme Court ruling, but they say others are afraid to go public.

"We are getting a lot of people who are desperate, who are panicking right now so I have to calm them down," says Maria Carrasco, who runs a telephone hotline for the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Coalition).

Carrasco says she's gotten about 30 calls in the past few days from people who are undocumented or from their family members who are afraid police will stop them and turn them over to immigration officers. They are worried even though the Obama administration says it won't respond to many local law enforcement calls.

"I give them phone numbers of lawyers, the consulate. Know you have the right to remain silent. Just give your name and that's it. Remain silent," Carrasco says.

Everyone I spoke with here is a U.S. citizen, legal resident or visa holder. But some members of Francisco Miranda's family are undocumented. What will he and his son, also Francisco, do when the law takes effect?

"If it ... gets ugly ... maybe we'll leave," Miranda says. Asked if he would go to Mexico, he says, no — he would go to California.

That's exactly what the sponsors of SB 1070 want. It says right in the law: attrition though enforcement — get the undocumented to leave Arizona.

"I think it's a very good thing because I don't believe that people who came here illegally should be allowed to stay," says Arizona state Rep. John Kavanaugh, a sponsor of SB 1070.

No one knows how many people left the state two years ago after the bill was passed. Kavanaugh is hopeful the exodus will resume now that the threat of police action is real.

"Which doesn't solve the national illegal immigrant problem but sure helps Arizona," Kavanaugh says.

Back on the Tucson street corner, protesters aren't buying it. Many say even if older immigrants are afraid, young people — especially those who've grown up in the U.S. — are not.

"I came out all the way from Florida and it's because there is resistance and I think people really do want things to change," says Genesis Lara, a college student in Arizona for the summer. .

So as much as there's a chilling effect from SB 1070, there's also mobilization to keep families here, to report suspected racial profiling and to keep challenging the law in court.

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It will still be weeks or longer before the centerpiece of Arizona's immigration law SB1070 takes effect. When the Supreme Court ruled on the law this week, it left standing the provision that requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. A lower court has to remove an injunction before that will begin. But for much of Arizona's immigrant and Hispanic population, that's beside the point.

NPR is Ted Robbins reports there's already a chilling effect and there is protest.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORNS AND TRAFFIC)

TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: The cars passing in front of the Arizona state government building in Tucson are honking in support of protestors holding signs saying: Reject Racism and Today We March, Tomorrow We Vote.

Patricia Carpio's sign says, Resistencia.

PATRICIA CARPIO: It means we're not going to put up with this. This is not going to happen. It's just like the Civil Rights Movement, we're just taking it a whole different way.

ROBBINS: They're handing out flyers announcing meetings for the Coalition to Resist and Repeal SB1070. These are people who feel emboldened by the Supreme Court ruling. They say others are afraid to go public.

MARIA CORRASCO: We've been getting a lot of people who are desperate, who are panicking right now. So I have to calm them down.

ROBBINS: Maria Corrasco runs a telephone hotline for the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, the Human Rights Coalition. She says she's gotten about 30 calls over the last few days from people who are undocumented or from their family members, afraid people will stop them and turn them over to immigration officers, even though the Obama administration says it won't respond to many local law enforcement calls.

CORRASCO: Yeah, I give them phone numbers of lawyers, the consulate. You know, you have the right to remain silent. Yes, give your name and that's it. Remain silent.

ROBBINS: Everyone I spoke with here is a U.S. citizen, legal resident or visa holder. But some members of Francisco Miranda's family are undocumented. I asked him and his son, also Francisco, what they'll do with the law takes effect.

FRANCISCO MIRANDA, SENIOR: (Foreign language spoken)

FRANCISCO MIRANDA, JUNIOR: If like though, if it gets like it's ugly...

(LAUGHTER)

JUNIOR: If it gets ugly, like maybe we'll leave.

ROBBINS: And go where, back to Mexico?

SENIOR: No. No. California or...

ROBBINS: That's exactly what the sponsors of SB1070 want. It says right in the law: Attrition through enforcement - get the undocumented to leave Arizona.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE JOHN KAVANAGH: Yeah, I think it's a very good thing because I don't believe that people who come here illegally should be allowed to stay.

ROBBINS: Arizona State Representative John Kavanagh is one of SB1070's sponsors. No one knows how many people left the state two years ago after the bill was passed. Kavanagh is hopeful the exodus will resume now to the threat of police action is real.

KAVANAGH: We still haven't solved the national illegal immigration problem, but it sure helps Arizona.

ROBBINS: Back on the street corner, protestors aren't buying it. Many say even if older immigrants are afraid, young people - especially those who've grown up in the U.S. - are not.

Genesis Lara is a college student in Arizona for the summer.

GENESIS LARA: I came all the way from Florida. It's because there is resistance and I think people really do want things to change.

ROBBINS: So as much as there is a chilling effect from SB1070, there's also mobilization to keep families here to report suspected racial profiling, and to keep challenging the law in court.

Ted Robbins, NPR News, Tucson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.