While the most controversial elements of Arizona’s immigration law have been placed on hold, some illegal immigrants in the state are deciding it’s time to leave. In nearby Colorado, the American Friends Service Committee says more than a dozen families have arrived in just the past few weeks.
In a small apartment in a sketchy neighborhood just outside Denver, Elia, who doesn’t want her last name published for fear of being deported, says she left Phoenix about two weeks ago.
“It was shown on television that if we were walking or if we were on the bus, the police could stop us because of the color of our skin–because we’re Hispanic,” she says through a Spanish-language interpreter.
That’s Elia’s perception, but it’s not true. The Arizona law specifically prohibits racial profiling. It requires police to check immigration status when someone is stopped for another offense, but that’s one part of the law that a judge has blocked for now.
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Jennifer Piper, who works on immigration issues for the group, says it’s amazing to think immigrants are fleeing Arizona for Colorado. Just a few years ago, Colorado lawmakers passed a series of immigration laws–some of them similar to Arizona’s.
Immigration has been emerging as an issue in the midterm elections. In Colorado, one of the most vocal immigration critics in the country–former Congressman Tom Tancredo–is now running for governor. He says he doesn’t understand why illegal immigrants are fleeing Arizona out of fear.
“The fear of what?” Tancredo asks. “The only thing that can happen is that they can be identified as being here illegally and perhaps, at worst, actually be deported because that’s the law.”