This article by Valeria Fernández was published a few weeks in IPS News. Nationally, this situation has received little attention, despite its horrifying effects. According to sources on the ground in Arizona, the crisis is ongoing and getting worse by the day.
PHOENIX, Arizona, Dec 4 (IPS) - Arizona community activists and religious leaders are trying to mitigate fears over a new law that would require state employees to denounce undocumented immigrants.
“There’s panic in the community,” said Pastor Magdalena Schwartz from the Disciples of the Kingdom Free United Methodist Church.
Authorities should realise that the confusion is endangering public safety, said Schwartz, because parents are afraid to take their children to the doctor even when this law shouldn’t affect them.
“This is particularly scary now that we’re in the middle of influenza season,” she added.
Arizona is considered a testing ground for immigration laws for the rest of the nation. Over the past five years, Republicans have enacted legislation that ranges from banning scholarships for undocumented students to denying bail to undocumented people charged with a crime.
HB 2008 – which took effect on Nov. 24 - requires state, city and any government employee in Arizona to report to immigration authorities any undocumented immigrants who request a public benefit. Government workers could face up to four months in jail if they fail to make a report.
The law also gives taxpayers the right to sue a state or city agency if they believe the law is not enforced properly.
While the new regulation doesn’t affect emergency healthcare, police and firefighter services, there’s growing concern and distrust.
“When it comes to my daughter’s health, I won’t play. I’ll take her to the doctor,” said José, an undocumented father whose daughter - a U.S. citizen - is getting treatment for a liver transplant.
“But I feel between a rock and a hard place. If I get deported, then how am I going to care for her?” he told IPS.
To read the entire article, visit www.ipsnews.net.