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Weekly Diaspora: Modified SB 1070 Goes Into Effect; How Federal Law Paved the Way

07/29/2010 12:25 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

by Annie Shields, Media Consortium blogger

Yesterday, 9th Circuit Judge Susan Bolton struck down many of the most controversial provisions in Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, including the section requiring police to ask anyone they suspect of being undocumented for proof of citizenship. It's a small victory. Today, a modified version of the bill goes into effect.

Although Bolton's decision weakened the state law, several problematic provisions remain in place, including one that allows Arizona residents to sue local police for not enforcing SB 1070, as well as one that makes it a crime to knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant under any circumstance, even in an emergency. ColorLines has a good breakdown of pending lawsuits against SB 1070.

How 287 (g) paved the way for SB 1070

As GritTV's Laura Flanders explains, both supporters and opponents of SB 1070 agree that the feds laid the groundwork for such stringent enforcement measures. Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act made it possible to contract law enforcement to arrest immigrants on suspicion. Arizona's then-Governor Janet Napolitano was the first to sign up for the program, and the biggest federal contract was given to none other than infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona's Maricopa County.

The passage of SB 1070 made it clear that the federal government had created a monster. It remains to be seen what will happen next, but fully striking down SB 1070 may have to take a backseat to revisiting the precedent set by 287 G.

Record enforcement under Obama

Conservatives have continuously attacked President Barack Obama and his administration for being weak on immigration, failing to enforce laws, or to secure the border. But, as Elize Foley explains for the Iowa Independent, immigration enforcement is at an all time high.

It's estimated that the number of deportations this year will increase by nearly 10 percent over 2008's total under the Bush administration. In addition, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has been auditing companies business at a rate about four times higher than in 2008. What's more, rates of illegal immigration have actually fallen in recent years. But with an economic crisis caused by so many of conservatives' closest allies, it seems that immigrants are the only remaining scapegoats.

Obama polling poorly among Latinos

A new poll conducted by Univision and the AP shows Latino support for Obama and Democrats is slipping, as ColorLines reports. Obama currently has a 57 percent approval rating among Latinos. That figure has dropped significantly from 70 percent in January.

Latinos have been hit especially hard by the unemployment crisis, which could in part account for the drop. Nearly half of those polled reported that they or a family member had lost a job since September, compared to 30 percent for all Americans.

Additionally, the poll found that Obama's approval rating was closely related to the way he dealt with SB 1070. The poll also found a pronounced split among Latinos based on language. Obama's approval rating decreased by 21 points among Spanish-speaking Latinos since January, and only 5 points for English-speaking Latinos. As Daisy Hernandez writes, the message for the Obama administration is that "It's probably time...to take a cue from California gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman and start working on those Spanish ads."

Fighting hunger in Arizona's immigrant communities

Public News Service reports that two "Hunger Fellows" will begin efforts to increase awareness and participation in the food stamp program among Arizona's Hispanic and Latino communities this coming fall. Enrollment in the food stamp program in Arizona has risen steadily in recent years, with over one million receiving benefits and growing. Many Spanish-speaking Arizonans are hesitant to seek them out, even though they are eligible. The apprehension is exacerbated by the harsh anti-immigrant sentiment prevalent in the state. According to Arizona Community Action Association director Cynthia Zwick:

"The political environment right now has created some barriers to application for food stamps for families that are eligible, people who are legal residents...The bottom line, really, is that families who are eligible have access to those benefits."

Suns are shining

Finally, in more SB 1070 protest news: The Phoenix Suns basketball team have taken a stand against Arizona's anti-immigrant bill SB 1070 by wearing "Los Suns" jerseys and vocalizing their opposition. National Radio Project has the story.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

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