How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Five things to read on the one-year anniversary of SB 1070

Photo by mattlocks923/Flickr (Creative Commons)


A year ago Saturday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the controversial measure known as SB 1070. Among other things, this stringent anti-illegal immigration law was to empower local police to check the immigration status of people they stopped if there was "reasonable suspicion" to believe they were in the country illegally, make it necessary for immigrants to carry their documents, and made it difficult to hire or work as a day laborer.

Numerous parties filed suit, including the federal government on the grounds that the measure was pre-empted by federal law. The law's most contested provisions were blocked by a federal judge on the eve of its implementation last July 29, though many provisions - including the day labor portion - still went into effect. People protested and an economic boycott of the state ensued. Still, even as parts of SB 1070 remained hung up in court, it could be said that the law set the stage for the tone of immigration politics during the year that followed.

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Whatever comes of SB 1070, the law has left its mark on immigration politics

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Protesters rally across the street from the downtown Phoenix office of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio last July 29, the day that parts of SB 1070 went into effect.

The Arizona law that became one of last year's biggest immigration stories has been shot down in federal appeals court, at least for now. Yesterday, a judge in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court judge's decision from last summer to block several of the most controversial components of SB 1070, among them a provision empowering local police to check for immigration status given "reasonable suspicion" that someone may be in the country illegally.

It's still not clear how the state will appeal the latest decision, though it most likely will. In the past, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vowed to take the state's case to the federal Supreme Court. But whatever becomes of SB 1070, parts of which have been in effect since July 29, the law has already had a lasting effect on the state of immigration politics in the U.S.

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Top five immigration stories of 2010, #1: Arizona's SB 1070

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


It's been a year in which immigration has played a part in everything from the economy and the 2010 census to the California governor's race, making it tough to limit the year's biggest immigration stories to a list of only five. The stories we have reviewed this week have included the tragic massacre of migrants near the Texas border in Tamaulipas, which highlighted just how dangerous clandestine passage to the United States has become; the record number of deportations under the Obama administration, part of an enforcement trade-off for broader reforms that never came; the controversial enforcement programs Secure Communities and 287(g); and the Dream Act, which prompted an unexpected student movement in support of its proposed conditional status for undocumented college students and military hopefuls.

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