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Crosspost: Immigrants Face New Year With Old Fears

Cloee Cooper • Jan 04, 2010

Valeria Fernandez, reporter for Feet in Two Worlds, aptly summarizes the concerns for undocumented immigrants in Arizona this coming year. Not only does she describe the saga of Sheriff Joe for Arizona’s undocumented, but she highlights the troubling legislative backing of anti-immigrant spokespeople. Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (R), the state contact for John Tanton Network’s State Legislators for Legal Immigration, has been rigorously pushing a bill that would essentially re-enact 287(g), allowing for all local state law enforcement to arrest undocumented people.

By Valeria Fernández, FI2W contributor

Phoenix, Arizona – For Arizona immigrants 2009 was the year of raids in workplaces, traffic stops that led to deportations and reports of violations of human and civil rights.

“This past year was tragic for immigrants in Arizona,” said Linda Herrera, director of Unidos en Arizona a pro-immigrant grassroots group. The organization has been helping families develop emergency plans in case a member is deported or loses their job because of stricter laws.

“Next year will have to be about uniting,” she added.

Arizona made national headlines all year long largely because of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The self-proclaimed America toughest sheriff went after undocumented employees at their workplaces and conducted raids in Latino neighborhoods. When the federal government took away some of his immigration powers under a 287(g) agreement he remained defiant.

2010 may see a change in the political tone of the immigration debate in Arizona. A Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation over allegations of civil rights violations by the sheriff’s office it’s expected to be concluded. Yet, the nature of any actions taken by the DOJ will be at a civil level in the form of an agreement.

But most political observers are expecting stronger actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) that is reportedly investigating Arpaio over suspected political retaliation and abuse of power. There is also an Arizona attorney general investigation of alleged illegal political contributions by upper level officers in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

“I think in 2010, we’ll see an absolute change and Arpaio will have to retire and fold his cards,” said Carlos Galindo, a pro-immigrant activist and political commentator on radio station KAZA.

Even if Arpaio scales back his crackdowns on immigrants, members of the state legislature have vowed to continue to create tougher measures aimed at the undocumented population. Republican Senator Russell Pearce announced last October that he would press for the passage of a bill that will allow local law-enforcement officers throughout the state to arrest undocumented immigrants.

Pearce said that if the bill fails in the legislature he will take it directly to Arizona voters who traditionally have supported anti-immigrant initiatives.

Read the article in full here: http://feetin2worlds.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/immigrants-face-new-year-with-old-fears/

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