BEVERLY HILLS—On Thursday, July 29, the much-debated immigration law was set to go into effect in the state of Arizona. The law aims to place stricter regulations on immigration by mandating state law enforcement agents to enforce laws that apply to the issue. If and when officers stop a suspicious person, the new law now requires them to confirm the legal status of the person in question if they believe it to be a pertinent factor. Parties also have the right to bring legal action against local agencies that they believe are not properly enforcing immigration laws.
The law has stirred much controversy within the state and across the country. Here in California, the issue has stirred debate in much of the population, and on the eve of the new law taking effect, many people were taking action.
On Monday, July 26, protesters from a group called “We are All Arizona” gathered in Los Angeles to hang banners from freeway overpasses. The signs reflected the protesters’ displeasure with the immigration laws. Commuters on the 101 Hollywood Freeway in downtown could see the banners hanging from overpasses throughout the week leading up the law’s enactment.
On Tuesday, July 27, and Wednesday, July 28, protesters organized by the Southern California Immigration Coalition, gathered at the Federal Building to stage protests as well. Police joined the crowds to ensure the protests were conducted with as little disruption to the area as possible. Back in May, a protest outside the Federal Building on Wilshire caused major traffic issues as protesters against the immigration law gathered at the site and spilled out onto the street.
For those in favor of the law, they see it as a necessary measure for regulating illegal immigrants and controlling over-population, crime and other related issues. Stand With AZ is one group who has been very vocal about their support for the Arizona law and the fight against illegal immigration. As stated on their Facebook page, “This isn’t about racism, or xenophobia, or ‘apartheid’ or any of the other hysterical slanders the left has come up. This is about the safety and well-being of the citizens of the state. And its support was overwhelming.” The group has been closely following the progress of the law and providing a source for people to get information on the cause and express their support. The “California Project” is part of their extension program to help other states deal with the issue of illegal immigration including the movement towards implementation of an e-verify system here in California; a movement led in large part by Ted Wegener, founder of the Menifee Tea Party Patriots. The group was not available for comment.
In terms of support here in California, a recent Field Poll conducted in June and July of this year measured the percentage of California voters in support of the immigration law. The study finds as such, “The results of the poll show that California voters hold strong opinions about the Arizona law and are about evenly divided on the issue. At present 49% of voters here approve of the Arizona law, with 37% approving strongly and 12% approving somewhat. A nearly equivalent proportion (45%) disapprove 34% strongly and 11% somewhat.”
In terms of a relationship between this evidence and the recent protests, the evidence shows that more people are highly enthusiastic in their support or opposition of the law. As Mark DiCamillo, director at The Field poll told Canyon News, “Most of those who approve or disapprove of the Arizona law do so strongly.”
On Wednesday, a federal judge blocked a majority of the Arizona law a day before it was set to go into effect. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued an injunction against the law, and specifically, the part which requires police to check the status of questionable persons. Supporters of the law plan on fighting the injunction through the appeals court.
In California, both the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County are boycotting Arizona. The boycott was expected to have a multi-million dollar effect on the state of Arizona through upsets in contracts and negotiations. The LA City Council voted in favor of blocking all business with Arizona until the law is repealed. With Wednesday’s injunction, city leaders are reassessing the boycott.
As another reaction to the Arizona law, August has been declared “Immigrant Pride” month in the city of Los Angeles.
As the battle persists in the courts and on the streets, the Arizona law is posed to have a tremendous effect on residents of Arizona, California and across the country.