Friday, May 24, 2024

Hispanics Leave Arizona in Anticipation of Law’s Enactment

In anticipation of the controversial new anti-immigration law going into effect at the end of the month, Hispanics are reported to be leaving the state of Arizona.

School districts with high Latino populations are reporting a drop in enrollment. Balsz Elementary School District #31 in Phoenix, which is 75 percent Latino, has seen 100 students leave since SB1070 was signed into law earlier this spring.  This compares to last year, when during a similar time frame, the school lost only 7 students.

“It seems to be clear that some of our families are leaving Arizona to move to other states where they feel they can work and where they feel more welcome,” said Superintendent Jeff Smith.

The law will require local law enforcement to question a person about his or her immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally.

Denounced by the White House, civic leaders and the legal community, the law is facing legal challenge.  Thomas A. Saenz, the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which is one of the groups that filed suit to stop the bill’s implementation says, “for the first time, there would be immigration enforcement in schools, which has always been against federal policy.”

This raises a host of questions for schools which are trying to reassure uneasy parents. Officials of one school district that is 90 percent Latino wrote to parents saying schools were safe for their children, and they would not ask for any immigration papers.

For their part, local law enforcement has not outlined in any clear terms how they intend to comply with the new state requirements.

Businesses, too, are feeling the effects of fewer Latino consumers. David Castillo, co-founder of the Latin Association of Arizona, says of the lost revenue, “It’s devastating.”

Referencing the reported Hispanic exodus from the state, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s spokesperson replied, “If … fewer people are breaking the law, that is absolutely an accomplishment.”  His sentiments are echoed throughout the right-wing blogosphere where self congratulations are easily found as commenters celebrate what they call the law’s “intended outcome”.

USA Today

Ed Week