New Arizona Immigration Law Generates Local Reaction - 8 News NOW

New Arizona Immigration Law Generates Local Reaction

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LAS VEGAS - Rarely will a new law in another state get this much local attention. But Nevada's immigration picture is similar to Arizona's.

Estimates show as many as 170,000 illegal immigrants may be working in Nevada. That is twice the national average, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. So, it's no surprise that Arizona's new immigration enforcement law is stirring debate in Nevada.

Conservative radio talk show host Heidi Harris applauds the law. "Arizona is just trying to put some teeth back in the laws that we should already be enforcing," Harris said.

But, immigration attorney and activist Vicenta Montoya has a different opinion. "It's one of dismay and sadness that this was signed into law by Governor Brewer," Montoya said. "When people say you'll be arrested while driving while black, this would be living, walking, and driving while brown." Montoya says the law compares with legislation German Nazis used to single out Jews.

But Harris disputes that claim. "It does not allow you to be stopped just because you look Latino," Harris countered. "That would be a violation of everybody's civil rights, and I would not be for that… (It's not like) you get tapped on the shoulder. You know, 'papers please.' That's not what this does," she said.

Still, some Latinos fear Arizona's law could give police too much power. Roberto Bustos is an American living near the Mexican border. "If they want to stop me and ask me if I'm an American or not, that's insulting," he said.

Both Harris and Montoya agree that Arizona's law could drive illegal immigrants out of the state and into Nevada. "I could see people leaving Arizona or not wanting to be there," Montoya said. "People who are citizens, people who are permanent residents, who say that's a hostile environment (could say), ‘I don't want to stay there anymore.'" "A lot of illegals will leave and probably come here, which is a problem," Harris said. "I don't want that to happen. I don't want illegals to be in this country at all."

Montoya believes, ultimately, Arizona's new law will be ruled unconstitutional and cost taxpayers millions of dollars if the state has to defend it. Harris disagrees. She says polls show a large majority of Arizona residents want it.

So far, Nevada does not have any proposed legislation similar to the Arizona law.

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