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Vol. 74/No. 30      August 9, 2010

Key parts of Arizona
immigrant law blocked
(front page)
July 28—In a victory for immigrant and workers rights, a federal judge granted an injunction today against four key sections of Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law, which were set to take effect tomorrow.

Among the sections U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton put on hold are: requiring police to check the immigration status of everyone they stop if they have “reasonable suspicion” the person is in the country illegally; making it a state crime for undocumented immigrants to apply for work; and imposing criminal penalties on immigrants who do not carry their “alien-registration papers.” Bolton ruled that it was likely these sections will be permanently overturned.

Bolton refused to halt a provision that makes it a state crime to transport or harbor an undocumented worker and a section that makes it a crime for day laborers to get into a vehicle if it “impedes the normal movement of traffic.”

Protests against the law have been held in dozens of cities across the United States over the last several days. Demonstrations will take place in Phoenix and Tucson tomorrow.

While the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the law’s implementation—one of seven lawsuits asking the courts to overturn parts of the legislation—much of the Arizona law echoes already existing federal laws.

In 2006, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) created a special unit in Phoenix, the Law Enforcement Agency Response unit, to work with local cops 24 hours a day. Since October of last year the unit has detained 3,528 people, who were handed over to them by the cops.

ICE has also signed 287(g) agreements with nine police agencies in Arizona. The state, along with Virginia, has the highest number in the United States. These agreements allow local cops and jailers to act as immigration agents.

The Secure Communities program, which checks fingerprints of those in jail for any reason against a Department of Homeland Security database, will be expanded to Arizona next year. ICE plans to have the program in place nationwide by 2013. From October 2008 through May this year, 2.6 million people were screened under the program.

The Barack Obama administration has cut back the number of factory immigration raids. These were unpopular among many working people who did not like seeing their coworkers handcuffed, jailed, and deported. The raids were often met by immediate public protests.

In the last nine months, 765 undocumented workers have been arrested on the job, compared to 5,100 in 2008. At the same time, ICE has expanded the number of immigration audits from 503 in 2008 to 1,444 in 2009, and 1,525 so far in 2010, leading to the firing of thousands of workers.  
Removal orders at record levels
The Obama administration has not detained and deported more immigrants than previous presidents. However the number of those stopped by ICE or the U.S. Border Patrol and given “orders of removal”—instead of being allowed “voluntary” departure—is at the highest level ever. Workers with removal orders face the threat of felony charges if they reenter the United States.

ICE has stepped up the number of well-publicized sweeps of alleged “criminal aliens.” Arizona governor Janice Brewer has taken this attempt to criminalize immigrant workers even farther. In a June 25 debate with Republican party candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial race, Brewer claimed that “the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are … drug mules,” bringing marijuana and other illegal narcotics.

The anti-immigrant measures heighten insecurity among immigrant workers, help maintain a superexploited layer of workers, and allow the government more control over the flow of labor to meet the needs of factory and farm bosses.

Some workers had decided to leave Arizona before the law takes effect. Gabriela Jaquez told Reuters news service that she and her husband, a legal U.S. resident, are moving to New Mexico. “Under the law if you transport an illegal immigrant, you are committing a crime,” she said. “They could arrest him for driving me to the shops.”

A poll for the Arizona Republic said a majority of Arizona residents support the new law. But the poll found an even larger majority, 62 percent, are for giving amnesty to undocumented workers.  
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