Emotions, controversy continue to swirl around immigration law

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by Catherine Holland and The Associated Press

azfamily.com

Posted on April 26, 2010 at 6:39 AM

Updated Monday, Apr 26 at 9:28 PM

PHOENIX -- Police chiefs throughout Arizona are criticizing opponents of the recently signed Senate Bill 1070, which gives Arizona the toughest anti-illegal-immigration law in the country.

Those against the law, which will go into effect this summer, say it essentially legalizes racial profiling, especially of Hispanics.

Supporters of the measure say that's absolutely not true. They say fear and lies about the SB 1070 have been running rampant.

The new law  will require police to question people about their immigration status -- including asking for identification -- if they suspect someone is in the country illegally.

Over the weekend, police chiefs gathered at a town hall meeting hosted by Sen. John McCain. They said there's quite a bit of misinformation about the bill out there and insist that it will not lead to racial profiling.

"The Arizona law enforcement community is made up of many Hispanics. We've never had a policy of racial profiling. In fact quite the contrary," said Chief Joe Martinez of the Kearny Police Department.

Opponents, however, are still concerned.

Thousands of people gathered at the Capitol Sunday afternoon to protest the new law.

During that event, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon promised to file suit on behalf of his city.

Emotions were running high in the week before Gov. Jan Brewer signed the measure on Friday. Since Friday's signing, though, protesters have seemed more determined than ever to make their voices heard.

A few of those protesters have even been camping out at the Capitol.

On the national front, the Rev. Al Sharpton says he's ready to travel to Arizona and march in the streets to protest the state's new
 immigration law.

Sharpton joined Lillian Rodriguez Lopez from the Hispanic Federation in New York City on Sunday to speak out against the law. They say activists are prepared to commit civil disobedience to fight it.

President Barack Obama has called the new law "misguided" and has instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it's legal.

Congressman Raul Grijalva, who was at the Capitol Sunday, told the cheering crowd the Obama administration can help defeat the law by refusing to cooperate with its implementation.

Pressure is mounting for Congress to take action on the issue of immigration. While the Democrats want to move immigration reform up on list of priorities, but Republicans believe that time would be better spent on other issues.
 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

  

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