NPR Story
3:52 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Three Years After SB 1070, Political Climate Sees Change

Three years ago, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. The bill is one of the strictest state immigration enforcement laws in the country. In that time the majority of the provisions have never been enacted, with many challenged and a few overturned.

Here’s an updated list of where the bill stands after three years:

Earlier this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took up Section 13-2929, which makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly harbor or transport undocumented immigrants. Like the rest of the bill it shows the complexities of handling illegal migration.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s spokesman Matt Benson says Arizona has a unique need for the harboring and transporting provision.

“Arizona communities are the ones being hit hardest by illegal immigration, the drop houses, the smuggling organizations that are transporting and harboring individuals as part of the human smuggling trade,” Benson said.

In three years the bill has had a major impact beyond the Arizona communities, sparking heated national and international conversations about racial profiling and enforcement.

Since its inaction, thousands of people who were living in Arizona illegally left. We spoke to a woman who moved to New Mexico.

She was so nervous driving to work as a housekeeper that she once hyperventilated and lost consciousness on the road, she said.

"New Mexico offer me opportunities," Jossie said. "I am going to do something for New Mexico. I am going to tell my kids to do something good for New Mexico."

Jossie's husband was able to rekindle his catering business. She has a driver's license, a document that's still available for undocumented immigrants in New Mexico.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of the law, but kept its heart. Arizona police are required to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect is in the country illegally. The state spent nearly $3 million defending the law.

Governor Jan Brewer told reporters after the ruling,

“We cannot forget that we are here today because the federal government failed the American people regarding immigration policy, has failed to protect its citizens, has failed to protect the rule of law and failed to secure our borders."

But since June, the political climate has shifted. The Latino vote was crucial in President Barack Obama's re-election. The Republican Party has ditched anti-immigration rhetoric.

And group of Phoenix city officials and business leaders recently went to Mexico.

Their mission, in part, was to repair any damage SB 1070 has done.

Mexican business consultant Alex Baggot asked whether [SB 1070] would be a barrier to Mexican companies relocating to Phoenix.

"If you go to Phoenix, you are probably thinking that 'I better watch out, the cops are going to get me,'" Baggot said later. "I am thinking that half the people in this room were thinking that same thing, they didn't know how to ask the question, I guess."

Phoenix city and business leaders responded the law did not represent all interests in Arizona, and the part that is in effect is different than the original bill's language. Furthermore, they said the political climate on immigration has since shifted.

It was an answer that satisfied Baggot.

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