Obama Ramps Up Criticism of Ariz. Immigration Law

Julie Pace, Business Week, May 19, 2010

President Barack Obama stepped up his criticism of Arizona’s controversial immigration law Wednesday, calling it “misdirected” and warning that it has the potential to be applied in a discriminatory fashion.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, Obama called for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws and said that can’t be done unless Republicans support it.

The controversy over the Arizona law, which would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally, hung over Calderon’s visit. Both leaders oppose the law, with Obama directing the Justice Department to review it for possible civil rights violations, and Calderon’s government issuing a travel warning for Arizona, out of concern that Mexicans face an adverse political environment there.

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Almost twice as many people support the Arizona law as those who oppose it, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll this month. It found that 42 percent favored it, 24 percent opposed it and another 29 percent said they were neutral.

Obama has asked the Justice Department to review the law for possible civil rights violations. He said Wednesday that he expects a final review soon, after which his administration will decide how to approach the law.

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