Q+A-Arizona’s tough immigration law and U.S. reform

May 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Arizona’s tough new law cracking down on
illegal immigrants galvanized Democrats in the U.S. Senate in
their uphill effort to push a federal immigration overhaul and
boosted interest in traditional May Day rallies across the
country among Hispanic, labor and faith groups.

WHY IS THE NEW ARIZONA LAW SO CONTROVERSIAL

The law requires state and local police to determine if
people are in the country illegally, previously a function
carried out by U.S. federal immigration police and some local
forces. Critics of the law argue that it is unconstitutional
and a mandate for racial profiling, and fear it will destroy
trust between Hispanic communities and law enforcement in the
border state.

WHAT CHALLENGES DOES IT FACE?

The first two federal lawsuits challenging the law were
filed on Thursday in Arizona — one by a Tucson police officer
and the other by the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and
Christian Leaders.

Also in Arizona, activists filed a petition with the
secretary of state to put the law before voters on the November
ballot. The group, One Arizona, has until late July to submit
the more than 76,000 signatures needed to do so.

WILL OTHER STATES IMPLEMENT SIMILAR LAWS?

The National Conference of State Legislatures says other
states may look at similar measures, although the prospect of
costly legal challenges and controversy generated by the
Arizona law means that it will go slowly. Cost is an important
issue in these tight budget times.

HOW MANY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE IN ARIZONA AND WHAT WILL
THEY DO NOW?

There are some 10.8 million illegal immigrants living and
working in the United States, an estimated 460,000 of them in
Arizona. The state’s immigration law takes effect in late July,
90 days after the legislature adjourned on April 29.

Arizona’s shadow workforce is weighing its options. Some
illegal immigrants say they will wait and see if the law is
implemented, and if so, how vigorously. Others are considering
moves to other states, returning to their countries of origin,
or even to a third country such as Spain.

WHAT DOES THE IMMIGRATION CONTROVERSY MEAN FOR SENATOR JOHN
MCCAIN IN THE NOVEMBER CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS?

McCain faces his most serious challenge to date in the
Arizona Republican primary from fiery conservative J.D.
Hayworth, a former congressman and radio host, who is appealing
to the party’s right-wing base in the state. Moving to the
right in the primary, McCain has said that the state’s tough
immigration law showed frustration “over the federal
government’s failure to carry out its responsibility and secure
the border.”

WHAT ARE CHANCES OF THE U.S. CONGRESS PASSING REFORM BILL?

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on Thursday unveiled a
framework for overhauling the country’s immigration system,
elevating the issue as campaigns for November’s congressional
elections begin to heat up, although the chances of getting a
bill through Congress this year are slim.

President Barack Obama welcomed the plan and said, “What
has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to
fix our broken immigration system. But on Wednesday, he told
reporters that Congress, having dealt with a crush of volatile
issues this year, may not have “the appetite now” to tackle
immigration reform.

It is unclear if the 100-member Senate has the 60 votes
needed to pass an immigration bill. Republican Senator Lindsey
Graham, who had been working for months with Democratic Senator
Charles Schumer on a bill, has said an election year was not
the right time to debate such a divisive issue.

If it passed the Senate, the proposal would face tough
going in the House of Representatives, where dozens of
conservative Democrats who represent Republican-leaning
districts would be hesitant to support an issue certain to
inflame conservatives and alienate some independents.

WHICH PARTY WOULD BENEFIT FROM IMMIGRATION DEBATE?

Both parties face significant political risks from a
polarizing immigration debate. Republicans could lose more
ground with Hispanics, the biggest and fastest-growing
minority, creating long-term political difficulties.

Republican President George W. Bush had made significant
inroads with Hispanics, winning more than 40 percent of their
votes in 2004. But after Republicans helped kill immigration
reform in Congress, Hispanics flocked to Democrat Obama in
2008.

Obama won Hispanics by a margin of more than 2-to-1 over
Republican John McCain, and they were credited with fueling his
win in New Mexico, and helping in Nevada, Colorado and
elsewhere.

In addition to Reid, an energized pro-Democratic Hispanic
vote could be crucial in competitive Senate races in Colorado
and California.

But dozens of endangered Democrats in conservative
districts, already at risk after casting tough votes for
healthcare reform and more spending, would be even bigger
targets for grass-roots conservative activists.

The issue also could keep Democrats from talking about
their favorite campaign topic — efforts to rejuvenate the
economy and jobs.

WHAT WOULD IMMIGRATION REFORM LOOK LIKE?

The Democratic framework unveiled by Reid last week is
based largely on an outline drafted earlier by senators Schumer
and Graham. But Graham has complained that Congress is not yet
ready to move on it.

Reid’s plan seeks to bolster U.S. border security as a
first step. It backs the creation of a hi-tech identification
card for immigrant workers, a process to admit temporary
workers and “tough sanctions” against U.S. employers who hire
illegal immigrants. Most controversially, it seeks an eventual
a path toward U.S. citizenship for people in the country
illegally.

Stock Investing
(Reporting by John Whitesides in Washington and Tim Gaynor in
Arizona; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Q+A-Arizona’s tough immigration law and U.S. reform