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June 1, 2010

Arizona Teens React to New Immigration Law

The state of Arizona recently passed a controversial immigration law that requires law enforcement officers to stop anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. Advocates of the law say it will help stem the flood of illegal immigrants entering Arizona, while those opposed to the law say it is discriminatory and encourages racial profiling.

NewsHour Extra student reporter Lynda Lopez, age 18, asked six Arizona teens to share their views on the new Arizona immigration law and what it means for their state, their country and their families.

Benjamin, age 18

For a police officer to determine if someone is here illegally forces them to rely on judgments of appearance. No judgments based on skin color or appearance should happen, but in Arizona, they are now a state-sponsored act. Some people claim that crime will be reduced with the Arizona law. In reality, crime is disproportionally high in Arizona, but the cause of this is uncertain. Perhaps it is the fact that it is 110 degrees here in the summer or maybe it’s the number of illegal immigrants, no one can be certain. This law will not deter people from entering the country and it sparks anger among our actual citizens. Our governor is not well informed and this is not the first upsetting law she has signed.

Joseph, age 18

(Arizona Gov.) Jan Brewer was completely justified because this law forces law enforcers to enforce laws that are here to protect American citizens. It is a bit pathetic that such a law was necessary. Many people also overlook the fact that for the police to demand a person’s papers, they must have committed a prior offense (such as running a red light). No one is simply going to be stopped off the side of the road because they have darker skin. The idea that this law implements racial profiling is preposterous, to say the least. It will help Arizona because the crisis of illegal immigration will be slowed but not halted. This is not a total remedy, it is more like pain medication. More needs to be done to help solve this serious problem. If illegal immigration slows down because of this bill, my taxes will decrease, along with other Arizona taxpayers, because we will not be paying for illegal immigrants’ education or emergency healthcare.

Marisa, age 18

I think the law should be repealed so Arizona will be brought into a better light again, because I have seen nothing good come out of this bill. I do not have an answer for the immigration issue. I know that on a practical level, illegal immigrants should not be allowed to stay. But on an emotional, human level, I don’t want to kick anyone out who’s made a family and settled down here, making familial ties and living a life. Some of the most patriotic people I’ve met have been illegal immigrants because they truly believe in the American dream. This creates a huge debate within me that I haven’t solved yet. I do know that something needs to be done before this bill causes new racist bills to escalate or before Arizona takes more issues into its own hands.

Jeremiah, age 18

Because I know a lot of illegal immigrants, my heart went out to them and I was scared I might lose one of them. My family is all Hispanic and most of them disapproved of the moral issues of this. The law is also affecting me personally. My stepdad is an illegal immigrant. Without him, we would be living on food stamps and other small benefits. He has helped our family for over four years now and has been an amazing father. Recently, he cannot work as much because of the police enforcement violation. Although there is some justice in the law, does an entire family need to suffer for the injustice of another? My stepdad is learning English right now and we are looking for a good attorney to help us fight to make him a citizen. He plans to stop working for our sake and wait until he becomes a citizen but until then, why must he go into hiding?

Olivia, age 17

As a half Mexican, half Caucasian citizen of Arizona, I, as well as my family, will definitely be affected by this invasive law. Since I do not currently hold a driver’s license, this law proves particularly challenging for me. It is neither safe nor practical for me to carry my passport around everywhere, so I could possibly get arrested on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant without identification. As a U.S. citizen and as a human being, I should never have to feel this way in my and my family’s natural home country. All law-abiding citizens of this country should be able to live here peacefully without being disrupted simply because of their skin colors. This principle is one of the primary missions of America. Without it, Arizona is not only unjust, but also un-American.

Andi, age 18

When the bill was enacted in April, at a time when Arizona education was suffering from major budget cuts, I was a bit upset about where the funds that would be necessary to enforce the law would be coming from. However, after looking into the bill, I came to the realization that in the long term the law would be saving Arizona money. Illegal immigrants cost Arizonan taxpayers over $1.3 billion every year in medical, education, welfare and incarceration costs. My friends and family both disapproved of the bill because of the thought that the law would encourage racial profiling, but the bill clearly states that a person must be in violation of another law in order for their citizenship to be questioned.

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