- The Washington Times - Monday, April 26, 2010

PHOENIX (AP) — The conflict over a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration in Arizona intensified Monday as vandals smeared refried beans in the shape of swastikas on the windows of the state Capitol.

More protests were planned Monday after thousands gathered this weekend to demonstrate against a bill that will make it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant in Arizona.

Opponents say the law will lead to rampant racial profiling and turn Arizona into a police state with provisions that require police to question people about their immigrant status if they suspect they are here illegally. Day laborers can be arrested for soliciting work if they are in the United States illegally, and police departments can be sued if they don’t carry out the law.

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But supporters of the law, set to take effect in late July or August, say it is necessary to protect Arizonans from a litany of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Arizona is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the bill on Friday, argues that Arizona must act because the federal government has failed to stop the steady stream of illegal immigrants and drugs that move through the state from Mexico. She is scheduled to speak about the issue Monday at a Tucson hotel.

The law has revved up the national debate, drawing the attention of the Obama administration and Congress. President Obama has called the new law “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see whether it’s legal.

The new law makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. Immigrants unable to produce documents showing they are allowed to be in the country could be arrested, jailed for up to six months and fined $2,500.

Arizona officers would arrest people found to be undocumented and turn them over to federal immigration officers. Opponents said the federal government can block the law by refusing to accept them.

U.S. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, asked the federal government not to cooperate when illegal immigrants are picked up by local police.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, the Republican who sponsored the legislation, said it’s “pretty disappointing” that opponents would call on the federal government to refuse to cooperate with Arizona authorities.

“It’s outrageous that these people continue to support lawbreakers over law keepers,” Mr. Pearce said Sunday.

Mr. Grijalva and civil rights activists promised to march in the streets and invite arrest by refusing to comply with the law. Police said the protests Sunday were peaceful and there were no clashes.

“We’re going to overturn this unjust and racist law, and then we’re going to overturn the power structure that created this unjust, racist law,” Mr. Grijalva said.

U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, called on Mr. Obama to live up to a campaign promise to pass immigration reform. Mr. fGutierrez is one of the nation’s loudest voices calling for comprehensive immigration reform that would create a pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants now in the United States.

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