Latino Community Fired Up Over Arizona Law

By Lauren Jiggetts
|  Monday, Apr 26, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM CDT
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Vigils, boycotts of Arizona businesses and harsh words for President Barack Obama are among the reactions from Chicago's Latino community after a illegal immigration bill was signed into law last week.

Chicago Ald. Roberto Maldonado on Monday said President Obama has failed to fulfill a promise to address immigration reform.

"I don't know where his priorities are, but certainly they are not with the Latino community," he said, three days after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed an anti-illegal immigration bill into law.

Maldonado called the new law "a slap in the face to the Latino community."

In Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, several protests called for an economic boycott on Arizona businesses. One truck driver said he will not drive through Arizona on his way to drop off cargo in Mexico.

"It's a sad day, because hate against the Latino community has filled up the streets of Arizona," said Carlos Arango, the president of Frente Unido.

A vigil is planned for Monday evening in Chicago at the Broadview Detention Center.  Critics of the law are also being asked to join in a march from Union Park to Daley Plaza on May 1.

Over the weekend, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez addressed thousands of people at the Arizona state Capitol.

"Our message today is: 'Mr. President, we listened, and we came out in record massive numbers to support you,'" Gutierrez said. "We need you to support us today."

Arizona's new law allows police to question individuals about their immigration status if there's reason to believe they're in the country illegally. The person must show proof of legal status or face detainment. State representative Cynthia Soto says the President needs to stop the law.

"This is giving the green light to other states. We would hope that he would help us repeal that law in Arizona, because it is a human rights violation."

But supporters say the law is long overdue and that it's critical to protecting Arizona's economy and its border. Around 450,000 illegal immigrants live in Arizona.

Sheriff Joe Apraio of Maricopa County in Arizona said on the Today show Monday morning that critics are jumping to conclusions.

"They're not gonna go on a street corner and grab people because they look like they're from another country," he said.  "We haven't been doing that for the past three years, and I know law enforcement officers will not do that. That's hype, those are the critics, some politicians use that as an excuse because they don't like law enforcement enforcing the illegal immigration laws."

President Obama called the law "misguided" and called on the Justice Department to investigate.

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