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Immigration Advocates Rise Up in Anger over Arizona Law

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“Public furor is mounting across the nation over Arizona’s new 'show me your papers or go to jail' immigration law,” writes Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez in his New York Daily News column. “Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder said he may step in to challenge the new law, which permits police to stop residents merely on the 'reasonable suspicion' that they are unlawfully in the country.” [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, your column in The New York Daily News today is about the immigration bill in Arizona.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, well, there’s been — obviously there’s been a furor throughout the country over this bill, and one of the things that’s occurring now is, most people were not aware that May Day was a scheduled day for immigration rights protests around the country, and a lot of immigration advocates are now saying in the last week they’ve had a huge surge of interest by people in their communities to turn out at these May Day rallies.

And so, the Arizona — the new “show me your papers, or you go to jail” bill has already spurred enormous outrage in the Latino community, the immigrant community, the civil rights community. Obviously, Attorney General Holder now is saying he’s considering intervening. Even Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator, said yesterday he believes the law is unconstitutional. And some lawmakers are now actually calling — because, you know, Major League Baseball is scheduled to have its All-Star game in Phoenix next year, and they’re already calling on Major League Baseball, which depends so much on Latino ballplayers and continues to recruit more, to pull the game, to pull the All-Star game out of Phoenix as a demonstration of what Arizona could be facing if it continues to persist in this legislation.

AMY GOODMAN: And, you know, all of this happened — some of it happened when Arizona refused to pass the — honor Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday. Finally they caved because of boycott pressure.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, and now you’re getting San Francisco is considering possible measures. In Los Angeles, some local council people are talking about canceling contracts with, or not having any more contracts with firms in Arizona. So there’s increasing pressure on Arizona. But I think the key thing is that this has also heightened the pressure on Congress, because, after all, immigration is a federal — it’s a federal issue. States should not be legislating around immigration, so the pressure is now on Congress.

I talked to some members yesterday who said Chuck Schumer may, it looks like either today or tomorrow, finally come out with his proposed comprehensive immigration reform. It won’t be with Lindsey Graham anymore, because Lindsey Graham has now said he will not be part of a bipartisan proposal. But Schumer and Robert Menendez of New Jersey are saying that they are — looks like they’ve finally reached agreement to put a bill out there and begin to debate in Congress over immigration reform. All the experts, of course, are saying this is the worst possible issue to have a debate over just before an election. But I think in the immigrant communities, people say, “We’ve been waiting now for years for a resolution of this crisis,” and so they’re going to be turning out on May Day to increase the pressure on Congress.

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