Arizona Immigration Law Meets More Protests

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Arizona's illegal immigration law took effect Thursday without the provisions that would have made it the toughest in the nation. Yet the law was still prompted protests.

Opponents of the law took to the streets to protest and were met by a line of police in riot gear. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful with only a handful of arrests.

Judge Sarah Bolton's ruling to block the most controversial aspects of the law prompted celebrations in some parts of Arizona and at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

"We are all happy and proud," one opponent said.

"Yesterday, I went to bed really depressed," undocumented worker Erica Andiola added. "But this morning everything came back. The hope, the faith [and] knowing that those prayers are really working."

But for the nearly 60 percent majority of Americans who support the law, there was dismay.

"When does it stop?" a supporter of the law asked. "When is enough enough?"

Judge Bolton put a hold on the strongest sections of the law that would have required immigrants to carry their legal papers and mandated police to check for illegal immigrants while enforcing other laws.

Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio said that won't stop him from searching for those in his state illegally.

"Any police officer that arrests anyone on a criminal violation, all that cop has to do is book them into our jail and we are going to determine if they are here illegally," he said. "And that's anybody. And we will put a hold on them."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is appealing the decision to water down the law, which came after the Obama administration decided to sue Arizona in federal court.

"They need to step up. The feds do," Brewer said. "And do the job that they have the responsibility to do."

The ruling also halted enforcement of the section that bans illegal immigrants from gathering in public places to look for work -- a sensitive issue in a state with 10 percent unemployment.

"They definitely take our jobs. They take our resources," said Arizona resident Tracy George.

"They come into our country, they accept $2 an hour or sometimes even less," resident Agnes Wargo added. "So that takes away the opportunity for an American to have that job."

Some illegal immigrants had already started to leave Arizona in advance of the new law. It's unclear whether the latest ruling will stop the exodus.

But one thing is certain -- the fight over the law has just begun.

"By no means is this battle over," said University of California-Irvine professor Irwin Chemerinsky. "The next step will be review in the United States Court of Appeals and then ultimately -- likely -- on to the Supreme Court."

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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.