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Other border states shun Arizona's immigration law
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New Mexico's governor says it is a step backward. Texas isn't touching it. And California? Never again.

Arizona's sweeping new law empowering police to question and arrest anyone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally is finding little support in the other states along the Mexican border.

Among the reasons given: California, New Mexico and Texas have long-established, politically powerful Latino communities; they have deeper cultural ties to Mexico that influence their attitudes toward immigrants; and they have little appetite for a polarizing battle over immigration like one that played out in California in the 1990s.

But perhaps the biggest reason of all is that the illegal flow of people across the border is seen as a more acute problem, and a more dangerous one, in Arizona.

In the 1990s, the U.S. government added fences, stadium lights and more agents to the border in Southern California and Texas, forcing a shift in the flow of undocumented immigrants that has now turned Arizona into the single biggest gateway for people sneaking into the country from Mexico. The influx has led to a sharp increase in kidnappings, home invasions and other violence tied to drugs and human smuggling.

"The flow has moved east, and the debate has moved east as well," said Dan Schnur, director of the University of Southern California's Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics.

Arizona's population of undocumented immigrants has increased fivefold since 1990 to around 500,000.

The Tucson region replaced San Diego as the top place for Border Patrol arrests in 1998 and accounts for nearly half the total.

And Phoenix has been dubbed the kidnapping capital of the U.S., with an average of one abduction per day in recent years.

The other border states have older, larger and more culturally entrenched and politically connected Latino populations.

California and Texas were forced to deal with illegal immigration decades ago. Both states saw surges in the 1980s because of Mexico's shaky economy and the civil wars that wracked Central America. But many who entered illegally became voters under a 1986 federal law that granted amnesty to 2.7 million people.

That political clout is evident today, with city councils from Oakland to San Diego condemning the Arizona law and 50,000 people demonstrating in Los Angeles on May 1 in support of immigrants. On Wednesday, Los Angeles became the nation's largest city to boycott Arizona over the law, when the City Council voted 13-1 for sanctions that could include canceling some $8 million in contracts.

The New Mexico Legislature is 44 percent Latino, followed by California at 23 percent, Texas at 20 percent and Arizona at 16 percent, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Border states shun Arizona's immigration law

Most Americans back state's steps

Strong support » A strong majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found. Sixty-one percent of Americans -- and 64 percent of registered voters -- said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9.

The Democrats » Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats like the law, under which local law enforcement officers are tasked with verifying people's immigration status if they suspect them of being in the country illegally. While the Democratic Party generally is regarded as more sympathetic to undocumented immigrants' plights, 46 percent of Democrats said they favored the law for Arizona and 49 percent said they'd favor the law's passage in their own states.

Across the aisle » More than eight in 10 Republicans and 54 percent of independents favor the law.

Ask for proof » In addition, about 69 percent of Americans said they wouldn't mind if police officers stopped them to ask for proof of their citizenship or legal rights to be in the country; about 29 percent would mind, considering it a violation of their rights; and about 3 percent were unsure.

Source » McClatchy Newspapers

Politics » They don't see the illegal flow of people as problematic.
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