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Home Politics Texas’ Immigration Crackdown Recalls Arizona’s Divisive ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Law

Texas’ Immigration Crackdown Recalls Arizona’s Divisive ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Law

Texas’ Immigration Crackdown Recalls Arizona’s Divisive ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Law


The Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday allowing Texas to arrest and deport migrants resonated deeply in Arizona, which passed its own divisive crackdown against illegal immigration more than a decade ago.

Arizona’s effort, which became known as the “show me your papers” law, set off a torrent of fear and anger after it passed in 2010 and jolted the state’s politics in ways that are still reverberating — offering a lesson of what could lie ahead for Texas.

The law required immigrants to carry immigration documents, and empowered police and sheriffs’ agencies to investigate and detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. It made undocumented immigrants fearful to drive or leave their homes. It sparked boycotts and angry protests. A political backlash removed the law’s Republican architect from office. Legal challenges gutted major provisions of the law.

The measure also galvanized a new generation of Latino activists to organize, register voters and run for office, seeding a political movement that has helped to elect Democrats across Arizona and transform a once-reliable Republican state into a purple political battleground.

“It made me realize where I stand in the United States, where my parents stand,” said Valeria Garcia, 21, an undocumented activist who was brought to Arizona from Mexico when she was 4 years old and is now majoring in political science and border studies at Arizona State University. “That was a political awakening.”

Immigration lawyers and immigrant children who grew up under the law, Senate Bill 1070, said it carved pervasive fear and uncertainty into Latino communities across Arizona. Some families hurriedly left the state. Some stopped going to work.

“It really did cause a chilling effect across the state,” said Delia Salvatierra, an immigration lawyer in Phoenix.

The Supreme Court struck down portions of Arizona’s law in a 2012 decision declaring that the federal government, and not states, had the power to set immigration policy. In 2016, voters in Maricopa County ousted Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the hard-line opponent of illegal immigration who had been a strong advocate of a state crackdown.

Now, as the number of illegal border crossings hits record levels, Republicans who control the Arizona State Legislature have again pressed for strict new measures. Earlier this year, they passed the “Arizona Border Invasion Act,” a bill similar to the Texas law that would have allowed local and state authorities to arrest and deport migrants who cross into Arizona illegally. It was vetoed by Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat.

Some who lived through the earlier law say the scars are still there. Denise Garcia, who was born in Phoenix to parents from Chihuahua, Mexico, was still in elementary school when the law went into effect. She vividly remembers how her family changed up their routines to hide from the authorities and felt scared to leave home. She said several immigrant friends from her neighborhood moved back to Mexico. She said life felt like a blur of fear.

“Are my parents going to be deported?” she said. “Am I going to come home to an empty house?”


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