Fleeing Arizona’s Immigration Law
The Washington Post provided an interesting look Sunday into the life of an Arizona woman who illegally entered the country a decade ago. The woman is married to an American and has two U.S.-born children, but fears deportation or violence as anti-illegal immigrant sentiment heats up in the state. She spends much of her time fearful that she will be arrested and deported or attacked by her neighbors, and tells the reporter she has heard rumors of immigration sweeps at shopping centers and bus drivers asking riders for immigration papers.
All told, it’s a pretty grim outlook, even if the piece is overly brief on whether these fears have any basis in fact:
Then the recession hit and Maricopa began topping lists of counties with the most foreclosures, and Arizona began topping lists of states with the biggest budget gaps. And then came the immigration law, which would require police to check the status of people they stop and suspect of being in the U.S. illegally. While lawyers will continue to debate the measure in court, it already has had a practical, even psychological effect.
Among its supporters, there is a sense of moral certitude, a mood championed by the county’s sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who has become a national hero to some by vowing to continue his sweeps for illegal immigrants – spectacular events in which deputies fan out into mostly Hispanic neighborhoods, at times wearing ski-type masks. Recently, Arpaio called for a citizen “enforcement posse,” a force of 500 people who will be outfitted, he said, with their own guns and helicopters.
This is why, among Hispanic families, the mood is one of nervousness verging at times on paranoia. And why adjustments are being made to hundreds of thousands of complicated lives.
Of course, the story only focuses on one woman, but it’s nevertheless interesting to note that some illegal immigrants are continuing to leave Arizona even after a federal judge blocked most of the controversial portions of SB 1070. So far, there have been no official statistics on how many people may have left Arizona due to the law, but anecdotal evidence such as lower enrollment in predominately Latino schools points to at least some departures. This could have unintended negative consequences for Arizona, as the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute’s Marc Rosenblum told me in August: “Businesses are feeling an impact, both because they may find a shortage of workers but also a shortage of customers.”