Immigrants Prepare for Enforcement of Arizona Law

Some are choosing to flee, others are getting a power of attorney for their kids

ByABC News
July 27, 2010, 6:44 PM

July 27, 2010 — -- Francisco has been in Phoenix, Arizona without papers for 14 years, but he says he's now afraid to walk the streets.

"I got my family, my kids born here," Francisco said tearfully. "And now I have come back to Mexico."

Francisco and his family are joining a growing exodus of illegal immigrants. They say they are driven by fear. They leave behind vacant apartments, empty shops and desks at school.

Some immigrants, like Francisco, are choosing to leave Arizona before its controversial immigration law goes into effect on Thursday. The law requires police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally.

Latino activists are encouraging their community to check their tail lights, not to travel in large groups and even to remove the Catholic rosaries from their rear-view mirrors.

Erika, a 23-year-old undocumented student, came to Mesa, Arizona in 1998 at the age of 11. She says her family was escaping from her abusive father. Erika dreams of being a counselor one day but is bracing to be separated from her family.

"I've been looking forward to being able to do what I studied for, what I worked so hard for and show this country that immigrants can also be good people," she said. "We're not here to take over."

Immigrants in Maricopa County, Arizona have already had a taste of what might happen elsewhere when the law goes into effect. The county, which includes Phoenix, stages frequent raids. Just today, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio allowed a raid at an office building. One illegal immigrant was arrested.

On Thursday, the rest of Arizona's police will have the power to do the same. Across the state, officers are bracing for more arrests and brushing up on the new fine line between enforcement and profiling.

An instructional video on the law's enforcement is mandatory viewing for Arizona's police officers. The video warns several times to not use someone's race as probable cause to stop him or her.