Arizona immigration: Both sides vowing to push forward

Published: Tuesday, April 12 2011 4:29 p.m. MDT

While Arizona lawmakers gear up to fight a federal court's decision to uphold a block on major parts of Arizona's immigration law, pro-immigration advocates are pushing hard for a national version of the Utah Compact, a document that calls for a softer approach to immigration reform.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down an appeal Monday asking the court to lift an injunction imposed the day before Arizona's law was to take effect on July 29, 2010. The U.S. Justice Department sued to block the law, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution because enforcing immigration law is a federal issue.

SB 1070 would have required police to inquire about immigration status during traffic stops. Critics said the law was an invitation to racial profiling. A provision that would have required immigrants to carry their papers was also challenged.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, told Fox News the court's decision is "outrageous."

"The bottom line is it is another hurdle," she said. "We believe we are right … and we are going to continue our battle."

Arizona bears the brunt of "the drug cartels and the illegal immigrations, the drop houses, the crime," she said.

"Now we have to stand up for the people of Arizona and for the people of America," she said.

It is unclear what the state's next move will be. Regardless, Leslie Berestein Rojas of Southern California Public Radio pointed out SB 1070 "has already had a lasting effect on the state of immigration politics in the U.S."

States throughout the country, including Utah, have used SB 1070 as a blueprint for building immigration legislation that challenges the federal government. Several states that are considering similar laws are watching Arizona's court battle carefully, The New York Times reported.

In the meantime, advocates for undocumented immigrants are pushing to make the Utah Compact a national model, Fox News Latino reported.

The Utah Compact, a set of guiding principles devised by state religious, education and business leaders, states in part that illegal immigrants are essential to the economy and deserving of respect. The document is credited with helping to pass immigration changes last month that included a guest worker program.

"The leadership in Utah, through the Compact, changed the debate around the country," said Ali Noorani, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Immigration Forum. "It's clear the Compact has struck a chord with the silent majority that wants reform."

Noorani is working with Utah leaders to create a national version of the Utah Compact, which could be announced as early as this summer.

Several other states, including Maine, Florida, Indiana, Georgia and Kansas, are already in the process of adopting their own versions of the compact. Their drafts emphasize keeping families together and urge compassion in law enforcement.

"It's important to represent the human side," Kathryn Williams, co-chair of the Alliance for Immigration Reform in Indiana, told Fox News. "It's also important to set the tenor of the debate so it's about what happens to that human."

Critics of the Utah Compact say the approach will lead to amnesty programs that encourage illegal immigration.

"They are trying to create the illusion of popular support for amnesty," said William Gheen, the executive director of the North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration. "But the reverse is true. Most people only want enforcement."

EMAIL: estuart@desnews.com

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