April 29, 2010

Hispanics and Arizona’s New Immigration Law

Fact Sheet

Arizona last week passed a law authorizing local police to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the United States illegally.1 The law has generated sharp debate between advocates who say it is needed to combat illegal immigration and opponents who say it is an infringement on civil liberties and an invitation to racial/ethnic profiling of Hispanics by the police. In addition, some say the law will create tensions between police and Hispanics that will hinder general law enforcement.

Below are a set of recent findings from the Pew Research Center and Pew Hispanic Center that provide background on a range of issues raised by the new Arizona law. The findings are drawn mainly from nationwide surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009.

  1. For the text of the law, see http://www.azleg.gov/legtext/49leg/2R/bills/SB1070S.pdf.
  2. The Department of Homeland Security uses the term “removal” rather than “deportation” to describe the actions of its Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection divisions.
  3. According to the Department of Homeland Security, of the 358,886 removals done in 2008, 97,133 were classified as removals of persons based on a criminal charge or those with a criminal conviction (Department of Homeland Security, 2009).
  4. For more information on Hispanics in Arizona, see http://www.pewhispanic.org/states/?stateid=AZ.
  5. A recent estimate from the Office of Immigration Statistics of the Department of Homeland Security says there are an estimated 460,000 undocumented immigrants in Arizona in 2009 (Hoefer, Rytina and Baker, 2010).