Arizona Immigration Policy Sets Off Polarizing Debate

"All I can say to the mayor of San Francisco is … 'You've got some crazy laws in California, and I wouldn't dream of not coming to San Francisco,' " said Jack Camper of the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said Democrats are fanning the flames of immigration to rally Hispanic voters in a year when polls show Republicans could whittle down Democratic majorities in Congress.

"It's potentially to their advantage if they're careful with it and aren't tarred by the idea of amnesty," he said.

Nowhere is the effect more apparent than in the campaigns of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

In 2006, McCain co-sponsored a bill with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts that would have made it possible for illegal immigrants to earn citizenship. This year, in the face of a strong primary challenge from former congressman J.D. Hayworth, McCain is talking tough on border security and praising his home state's law.

For Reid, the challenge is making sure that Hispanics — 15% of the Nevadans who voted in 2008 — show up this year. Polls show Reid struggling against possible Republican candidates, said Mark Jones, Rice University's political science department chairman.

Spawning Copycat Legislation

Kobach, the professor who helped write Arizona's law, said he's been contacted by so many legislators that he worries they'll act too quickly and write laws that don't stand up to challenge.

In other states:

• In Ohio, Butler County Sheriff Rick Jones and Republican state Rep. Courtney Combs are pushing a law like Arizona's.

• Utah's Legislature won't reconvene until January, but Republican state Rep. Stephen Sandstrom said he's drafting a bill like Arizona's. "I'm certainly happy to see the state of Arizona take the full size-13 boot to the federal government," Republican House Speaker Dave Clark said.

• A draft of a bill is circulating among Delaware legislators, said John Jaremchuk, a Republican councilman in Elsmere.

• Republican Missouri state Rep. Mark Parkinson said the Arizona law galvanized lawmakers to consider a similar bill in 2011.

• Texas state Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican, said she will file a bill similar to Arizona's. "If our federal government did their job," she told the Associated Press, "then Arizona wouldn't have to take this action, and neither would Texas."

Contributing: Joan Biskupic, Kevin Johnson and Kathy Kiely in Washington; Sheila McLaughlin, The Cincinnati Enquirer; David DeMille, The (St. George, Utah) Spectrum; Mike Chalmers, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal; Didi Tang, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader

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