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21 Apr, 2010 20:36

Immigrants face new challenges in Arizona

The southwestern US state of Arizona became the first to force immigrants to carry proof of their legal status.

Lawmakers in the US state of Arizona have passed a bill that would force all immigrants in the state to carry documents proving their right to live legally in the United States.

"All of the hard-fought civil liberties that everyone has been fighting for for generations are now going to disappear," said immigration activist Orlando Arelas.

He is just one of hundreds of Mexican-American who came out to the Arizona state capital in Phoenix to protest the new bill.

Arizona has long been known for tough immigration laws, but this new bill would make it illegal for anyone in the state to be undocumented. It would give police the power to enforce it and Arizona residents say that it would open the door for racial profiling–not just in Arizona, but in the entire United States.

Many activists also worry that this bill will create a ripple effect of similar legislation acrosss the country.

"This can be compared to the 1960's or apartheid. This is definitely one of the most racist bills in the nation right now," said immigration activist Diane Ovalle.

Those protesting the law were not only of Hispanic descent. Many Arizona residents say the bill should be alarming for all Americans. 

"I believe this is a human rights issue, and as a person, I think it's racist. And I think it's the responsibility of all people, no matter what color they are, to stand up and fight against racism," said Mark Sunman, a protestor. 

But others in this border state are not supportive of the immigrant activists. Although stayed home rather than rally at the capital, they were equally passionate about the immigration issues in their backyard. 

"There are many people that come to this country and follow the proper channels, do the proper thing, and those that don't are breaking the law," said one of the bill's supporters.