PHOENIX — Opponents of Arizona’s landmark immigration law took note of the
measure’s third anniversary Tuesday by urging lawmakers to repeal the
legislation that sparked a national debate over border security and immigrants’
The hard-line plan was signed into law in 2010 after years of complaints that
the federal government hadn’t done enough to address Arizona’s role as the
nation’s busiest point of illegal entry.
Democratic state Sen. Steve Gallardo, who has tried unsuccessfully for years to
get the Republican-led Legislature to overturn the law, said the legislation
known as Senate Bill 1070 helped unite national lawmakers and business leaders
against such policies, which he said went too far. Gallardo attributed President
Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 partially to voters incited over the law that
sparked waves of protests and ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“If there was one thing we can be thankful for is that 1070 woke up the
sleeping giant,” Gallardo said. “It motivated Latino voters to get involved.”
Latino activists gathered for a vigil Tuesday night at the Arizona Capitol lawn
to drive support for federal immigration changes.
“The goal of the event is to raise awareness about the fact that immigration
is about people … and to urge the Arizona Legislature to repeal SB1070 and
leave the responsibility of implementing and enforcing U.S. immigration policy
to federal authorities,” said organizer James Garcia.
Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh said Arizona’s “self-deportation” style
measure is still crucial to fighting illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, Obama and Republicans and Democrats in Congress are pushing for the
nation’s first immigration overhaul in nearly three decades. Republicans,
including Kavanagh, portray the proposed national law as amnesty that will
trigger future waves of illegal immigration and put a strain on state and
federal social service budgets.
Arizona’s law represents “a message to the federal government that we want
security,” said Kavanagh, one of the measure’s sponsors.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down sections of the law in 2012, including the
requirement that immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers. It
upheld a requirement that Arizona officers question the immigration status of
those suspected of being in the country illegally.