Flashpoint: Arizona's Immigration Law

Anger over immigration law reaches fever pitch

May 13, 2010— -- A new poll shows the majority of Americans favor Arizona's tough immigration law.

In a Pew Research Center poll, 59 percent of Americans said they support the law, and the numbers climb even higher when people are asked about specifics in the legislation. Some 67 percent of people said they support allowing police to detain anyone who cannot prove their legal status.

Despite the broad support, the law's enactment has taken a toll on Arizona's economy as fury over the policy law has reached a fever pitch.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Georgia, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "I was also going to go and give a commencement speech in Arizona, but with my accent, I was worried they would deport me back to Austria."

In a state that's home to nearly a half million illegal immigrants, the new law, which doesn't actually take effect until August, pits neighbor against neighbor.

For Alejandra Chacon, a college student who spent part of her day protesting outside the state capitol, the fight is personal.

"This is not about immigration any more than it's about the color of our skin, the way we talk, the way we look," Chacon said.

Boycotting Arizona?

The heated debate is playing out across the country.

Nearly 1,800 miles away from Arizona at a suburban Chicago high school, administrators have cancelled the Highland Park girls basketball team's trip to Arizona for a tournament. It's a decision that's not very popular among players.

"They shouldn't use us to kind of, like, protest they don't like the law," said junior basketball player Lauren Evans. "We just want to play basketball."

The city of Los Angeles also has stepped into the fray, banning travel to Arizona.

"L.A. is not going to stand for bigotry, racism and attacks on immigrants," said one city councilman.

Arizona business owners are worried about the effect the negative press will have on their bottom line.

Business leaders have urged baseball commissioner Bud Selig to not move next year's all-star game from Phoenix because of the law. In a letter to Selig, community groups said a relocation would cost jobs for, "innocent citizens, including our Hispanic community."

Switching Sides on Fence Debate

The debate over what to do about illegal immigrants also is dominating the state's U.S. Senate race.

In his latest ad, Republican Sen. John McCain, a longtime supporter of amnesty for immigrants, reversed course on the issue.

The ad blamed illegal immigrants for home invasions and murders and called for the completion of the "danged fence" along the border.

In 2006, Congress promised to build a 700 mile border fence separating the United States and Mexico in an attempt to stop illegal border crossings between the two countries. So far, only 34 miles of fence have been constructed, nine in Arizona.

McCain's ad reversed years of his criticism of such a barrier.