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Arizona Immigration Law Draws Crowds at High Court

9:29 AM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON -- As attorneys inside the U.S. Supreme Court argued the legal complexities of Arizona's immigration law and whether it interfered with federal responsibilities, a man stood outside the courthouse holding a sign reading simply, "Thank you Arizona."

A few feet away, a group opposed to Arizona's law, known as Senate Bill 1070, chanted, "Hey ho, 1070 has got to go!"

On the day that Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments to decide the law's fate, supporters and opponents gathered outside the Supreme Court and in different locations throughout Arizona to express their feelings.

Jim Shee, 73, was among a group of Arizonans who traveled to Washington to voice his opposition. Shee, a U.S. citizen and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against SB 1070, said he was stopped twice by law enforcement officers in Arizona in April 2010. He said he was asked for his papers and told he was stopped for looking suspicious.

"Unless SB 1070 is struck down, I fear I will continue to face racial profiling and discrimination by the state of Arizona simply because of my race and the way I look," he said.

Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer speaks to the media after leaving the United States Supreme Court following arguments involving Arizona's SB 1070.

"It's hard to read the justices, but I think we outshone the opposition quite a bit," the sheriff said.

The two groups mingled on the sidewalk in front of the court, with police standing guard all around. There were no confrontations between the groups.

The fact that Arizona's law had drawn such national attention came as no surprise to Arizonans.

"It seems to be the nature of Arizona as a newer and more innovative state," said U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., who supports the law.

In Phoenix, about 500 opponents of the immigration law attended an afternoon rally and marched along a downtown route that passed police headquarters, the federal courthouse and the Maricopa County Jail - all places that illegal immigrants arrested under the law could end up.

At least six protesters were arrested after they blocked a street during rush hour.

A separate rally earlier outside the state Capitol featured several supporters of the law, including legislators who had voted for it.

"We believe the U.S. Supreme Court is going to uphold the tenets of the bill by a 5-3 vote, and we are ecstatic about that, and we are happy to lead the nation in standing by the rule of law," said Republican state Rep. Jack Harper.

The rallies Wednesday show just how divisive the law has been.

"I think what's at stake is whether (the Supreme Court) is going to tear this country apart," Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change who opposes Arizona's law, said outside the Supreme Court. "This is a high-stakes moment for who we are as a country."

USA Today

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