Immigration Law Critics Target Mandates

Paul Davenport, AP, Jan. 19

PHOENIX—Opponents of Arizona’s new immigration law—stymied in their initial court challenges—are taking aim at the law’s election mandates, claiming they’ll virtually eliminate voter registration drives and place too many obstacles in front of minority voters.

A civil rights group and Democratic legislators have separately asked the Justice Department to block the law, which was designed to deny some public benefits to illegal immigrants. Voters approved the measure Nov. 2.

“It hurts minorities, particularly Hispanics and Native Americans that do have a language barrier,” said Democratic Rep. Steve Gallardo.

The move comes after the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and other opponents unsuccessfully challenged nonelection provisions of the new law.

The election provisions include requiring a person to produce a copy of a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship when registering to vote or when reregistering in another county. Also, a voter would have to show identification before voting at a polling place.

Opponents claim the registration requirements, including the need to submit photocopies of documentation with each registration form, would virtually eliminate registration drives similar to ones in 2004 that signed up thousands of new minority voters.

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