New Arizona Law Rattles Immigrant Community

New America Media, News Report, Valeria Fernández Posted: Nov 30, 2009

Traducción al español

PHOENIX, Ariz.--A new Arizona law aimed at denying public benefits to undocumented immigrants could hurt U.S. citizens as well.

Pastors, community activists and non-profit directors in Arizona are warning that the bill which took effect last Tuesday could have a chilling effect on immigrant communities and their U.S born children in need of health care, food and housing services.

“This is a terrible change,” said Alfredo Gutiérrez, a retired senator and editor of La Frontera Times. Since undocumented migrants don’t qualify for most state benefits this is a redundancy, and it’s children who would pay the price, he said.

HB 2008 requires state, cities and any government employee in Arizona to report to immigration authorities any undocumented immigrants who request a public benefit. Government workers could face up to four months in jail if they fail to make a report. The law also gives taxpayers the right to sue a state or city agency if they believe the law is not enforced properly.

The new regulations were included as part of the budget negotiations during a special session in the state.

“They were very sneaky on the way they put it in there,” said Lydia Guzman, president of the statewide pro-immigrant coalition Somos America.

The law has the support of Republicans, including Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce has been at the forefront of legislative efforts to related to undocumented migrants.

Arizona is considered a testing ground for immigration laws for the rest of the nation. Over the past five, years Republican have enacted legislation that ranges from banning scholarships for undocumented students to denying bail to undocumented people charged with a crime.

On 2004, Arizona voters approved Proposition 200 aimed at limiting access to public benefits by undocumented immigrants. The impact of the initiative was reduced to five programs after scrutiny by Attorney General Terry Goddard.

Despite it’s limitations, Prop. 200 had an extended effect on immigrant families who were afraid of requesting emergency health care services and pre-natal care for pregnant women, according to immigrant advocates.

They fear this new bill would add to the ongoing anti-imigrant climate.

While the law doesn’t eliminate eligibility for services it could require a caseworker to report on an undocumented parent if they find out about their status in a casual conversation.

“This is just unconstitutional, what they’re doing is penalizing children who are entitled to the services, but they’re going to take it away because they’re the children of immigrants,” said Luis Ibarra, director of Friendly House a non-profit agency that services Latinos and immigrants in Phoenix.

The Department of Economic Security (DES) did not respond to queries about which services will be impacted by the law. Nor did it clarify whether or not undocumented parents could safely request a benefit for their U.S. children without being reported to immigration authorities.

“I’m mostly worried about the U.S. children of fathers that have been deported. Many mothers are having to request food stamps because they don’t have another choice," said Magdalena Schwartz, pastor of the Disciples of the Kingdom Free Methodist Church in Mesa. "They’re not asking for themselves, they’re asking for their children.”

The state law won’t impact eligibility for federal benefits or essential services like emergency aid or police, some attorneys argue. But there’s growing concern that many state workers would report someone out of fear of loosing their job.

Guzman, president of Somos America, has been receiving phone calls from concerned immigrants but also social workers.

“A social worker told me: We can’t tell people not to apply if their children will starve to death. But on the other hand, what am I going to do, it’s not like I can find another job easily?,’” she said.

Another concern is that many of these workers might report on refugees or domestic violence victims who have a legit claim to a benefit for lack of understanding of the immigration laws in this country, she added.

Despite the alarm, the law’s implementation might be short-lived.

This coming Tuesday the Arizona Supreme Court will rule on the future of the law due to a lawsuit brought by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

The association that represents 90 cities and towns didn’t sue about the content of the law but the way it was created. They said it violated the state constitution because it was part of a state budget package, not a stand-alone bill. And it went beyond the scope of the special session called by the governor intended to address budgetary concerns.

On Tuesday, governor Brewer called the challenge “outrageous and shocking” at a time when Arizona is facing a budget deficit, according to a report from the Associated Press. Brewer's office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

If the current lawsuit is unsuccessful, “MALDEF [the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund] is prepared to go forward to challenge the law” said attorney Daniel Ortega, who would act as local council and fought against Prop. 200.

In the meantime, Ortega said “we’re going to have to tell people, ‘If you’re undocumented don’t go an ask for services.”

Valeria Fernández is an independent journalist and contributor for NAM in Phoenix Arizona.

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User Comments


Lou on Dec 23, 2009 at 05:51:44 said:

ALL RACIST WHITES WILL GO TO HELL....SO GO TO CHURCH AND PRAY WHITE PEOPLE , PRAY.


Free on Dec 15, 2009 at 12:35:43 said:

Wow im really surprise by all this haterism and rascism......WAIT NO!!!!they have been doing this since the begining of this nation was establish since they came like immgrants too. and kicking off the indains there the real natives from here not the white preople...and seriously all those rascist people should just shut up and saying maxicans are crimnals...just for wanting a better life...and this whole law just is insane...for reals most of the mexicans the only thing they do is work for those lazy butts of citizens who just cant go to work why because the mexicans yea right...seriously those kids dont have to suffer for those who say no lets the kids starve why because were to selfish and ingonorant to understand that ...and whats with go back hell mexicans help in this nation too....and also AZ,CA,and all those upper states were once Mexicos...Yea and this is so called a free state a nation Under God you dont even know what freedom and Peace means.....So that So law should be abolish its go against the consitution and all the rights people that have being or not being citizens....and not surprise by the whole rascist thing sine theyre used to doing that and having slaves...for reals racist people are just dying from the inside...we should all learn to be mulitculterism..


Ayerim on Dec 06, 2009 at 17:55:31 said:

Whether you like it or not, children of illegal immigrants born in the US are too US citizens just like you...therefore they have the same rights as you do. There are people that abuse the system everywhere not just illegal immigrants...


Natacha on Dec 04, 2009 at 06:29:38 said:

People read policy for DES there is certain restrictions that hasn't changed so those anchor babies that you state will still be recieving the benifits no matter the status of there parents citizenship. Thank God for loop holes, now I feel better knowing that they still can recieve there benifits and that it won't be taken from them!!!!!!! there is a god that is watching over them! So if you can read take time to read the whole picture before you start to comment. Just as I stated ignorance is a bliss.


Dana on Dec 03, 2009 at 19:34:18 said:

Well lets see I immigrated to the us when i was 3 legally by the way.......but wait didn\'t white people do the same...what makes you better than anyone else?? now a mother of two girls that are citizens and have the RIGHT to anything their country can provide for them!!!! NO i am NOT asking for your FU**EN money its their RIGHT as US CITIZENS to have health insurance!!! unlike others for example: White people that like to sit on their A*S and just live off of the government!!!! who rather mooch off of other people rather than work or think they are too good to work as a dishwasher or do yard work??? Come on people IGNORANCE!!!! its just plain Dumb what people are doing especially the state representatives governor and everyone who supports this . Let me remind EVERYONE who is working the LOW PAID JOBS!!!!!!! !!! MY GIRLS HAVE THE RIGHT !!!! and I WILL NOT LET ANYONE OR ANYTHING TAKE THAT AWAY FROM THEM!!!!!!!!!


Jack Sprat on Dec 03, 2009 at 14:58:36 said:

Why should we give these illegals a free ride? I have heard it many times from someone who works at DES. Both Illegal parents are working but they still come and get money, food stamps and medical for their anchor babies. I think this is fraud and they need to be prosecuted and deported.
This is an outrage! Why should someone who enters our country illegally live high on the hog when most citizens are barely making it and still can't get help. Why should I have to pay for Juan's new Escalade when I can't afford a new vehicle? Soon enough our gov will mandate that illegals have no rights, as they shouldn't. Take a look at the numbers, they are ruining this state as well as California. All illegals should be rounded up and be forced to live in their own crap hole which they all love, if Mexico's so great get the hell outta here! 2nd offense they should loose a foot (make it harder to run over the border) 3rd offense both feet. We need harsh laws to keep them out.
Try to cross the border anywhere else in the world and you may get prison time if your lucky. Why are we enabling these illegals to take advantage of us? Soon enough it will be tough on all illegals and I can't wait!
And to the bleeding hearts that think they derseve rights and our handouts, you personally give them money and feed them. How long do you think your money will last? If I went to mexico is the gov. going to give me money, feed my kids and take care of my medical? Hell no!
WAKE UP AMERICA AND LETS TAKE A STAND AND UNITE!!


Jack Sprat on Dec 03, 2009 at 14:00:35 said:

Why should we give these illegals a free ride? I have heard it many times from someone who works at DES. Both Illegal parents are working but they still come and get money, food stamps and medical for their anchor babies. I think this is fraud and they need to be prosecuted and deported.
This is an outrage! Why should someone who enters our country illegally live high on the hog when most citizens are barely making it and still can't get help. Why should I have to pay for Juan's new Escalade when I can't afford a new vehicle? Soon enough our gov will mandate that illegals have no rights, as they shouldn't. Take a look at the numbers, they are ruining this state as well as California. All illegals should be rounded up and be forced to live in their own crap hole which they all love, if Mexico's so great get the hell outta here! 2nd offense they should loose a foot (make it harder to run over the border) 3rd offense both feet. We need harsh laws to keep them out.
Try to cross the border anywhere else in the world and you may get prison time if your lucky. Why are we enabling these illegals to take advantage of us? Soon enough it will be tough on all illegals and I can't wait!
And to the bleeding hearts that think they derseve rights and our handouts, you personally give them money and feed them. How long do you think your money will last? If I went to mexico is the gov. going to give me money, feed my kids and take care of my medical? Hell no!
WAKE UP AMERICA AND LETS TAKE A STAND AND UNITE!!


Jack Sprat on Dec 03, 2009 at 13:50:23 said:

Why should we give these illegals a free ride? I have heard it many times from someone who works at DES. Both Illegal parents are working but they still come and get money, food stamps and medical for their anchor babies. I think this is fraud and they need to be prosecuted and deported.
This is an outrage! Why should someone who enters our country illegally live high on the hog when most citizens are barely making it and still can't get help. Why should I have to pay for Juan's new Escalade when I can't afford a new vehicle? Soon enough our gov will mandate that illegals have no rights, as they shouldn't. Take a look at the numbers, they are ruining this state as well as California. All illegals should be rounded up and be forced to live in their own crap hole which they all love, if Mexico's so great get the hell outta here! 2nd offense they should loose a foot (make it harder to run over the border) 3rd offense both feet. We need harsh laws to keep them out.
Try to cross the border anywhere else in the world and you may get prison time if your lucky. Why are we enabling these illegals to take advantage of us? Soon enough it will be tough on all illegals and I can't wait!
And to the bleeding hearts that think they derseve rights and our handouts, you personally give them money and feed them. How long do you think your money will last? If I went to mexico is the gov. going to give me money, feed my kids and take care of my medical? Hell no!
WAKE UP AMERICA AND LETS TAKE A STAND AND UNITE!!


ZACK on Dec 03, 2009 at 13:39:59 said:

tO RALF AT THE TOP, yOUR ABSOLUTELY RIGHT WHITE PEOPLE CAME TO AMERICA NOT AS IMMIGRANTS BUT AS TERRIORISTS, wE KILLED HUNDREDS OF INDIANS AMERICAN THAT IS THAN GAVE THEM A LITTLE PIECE OF LAND TO LIVE ON NOW KNOWN AS RESERVATIONS, aND I MY FRIEND KNOW WHERE THE HELL MY ROOTS CAME FROM SO WHATCH YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU WANNA TALK A BUNCH OF BULL SH*T ABOUT WHITE PEOPLE NOT KNOWING WHERE THERE FROM...SHIT ILL BUY YOU A PLANE TICKET UP TO VA AND ILL SHOW YOUR ASS JUST WHERE IM FROM... ALSO ITS NOT THE COUNTRY OF WHITE PEOPLE, BUT DAMN THE WHITE MPEOPLE DID MAKE THIS COUNTRY WHAT IT IS, DISAGREE LOOK AT ALLLLLLLL THE PAST PRESIDENTS, WHAT COLOR ARE THEY??????MY POINT EXACTLEY, NOW WE HAVE A NON AMERICAN MUSLIM IN OFFICE PLEASE NAME ONE GOOD THING HES DONE SINCE HES BEEN IN OFFICE, HES NEVER FOUGHT FOR THIS COUNTRY, HES NEVER SERVED IN THE US MILITARY OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. THIS WHOLE CHANGE TALK....WHEN IT COMES YOUR WORLD WILL BE ROCKED WELL THIS COUNTRY....OH WAIT IF IT GETS TOO FU**ED UP ILL JUST SNEAK OR GET SMUGGLED INTO ANOTHER COUNTRY...OH DAMN I ALMOST FORGOT IM AN AMERICAN WITH A PASSPORT ILL JUST TRAVEL LEGALLY TO ANOTHER COUNTRY AND BECOME A CITIZEN THE RIGHT WAY, NOTHING AGAINST THE TRUE LAW ABIDING IMMIGRANTS, WHO REALLY DO CARE FOR THIS COUNTRY BUT FUCK ALL WHO WANT TO EXPLOIT THE US ROT IN HELL I HOPE ICE GETS YOUR ASS.


Ralf on Dec 03, 2009 at 11:08:26 said:

you bad white people and, i say bad white people because i have white friends, should all b sent back to your homeland acting like you originate here. get it straight your from Europe. More than half of you white people dont even know where you come from. American is not an Ethnicity. You talk all this crap about Mexicans just because we are next to you when you dnt even realize that theres just the same amount of Asians, Africans, Europeans ext. we are all hard workers and would do jobs you people are too good for. if anything the country is this way because you are selfish and ignorant. Get your mind straight. put youself in our place. i know that if your country was bad and the country next to you had a better opportunity you would go. yea you all say i would fix my papers blah blah blah bull shit you have to wait 10 years for that. i see no problem with everyone jus getting along helping one another to create a better country. this is a melting pot of people. the country of immigrants. not the country of white people. if you forgot a black man is running this country at the moment n could b an asian a hispanic you never know.


Ralf on Dec 03, 2009 at 11:07:49 said:

you bad white people and, i say bad white people because i have white friends, should all b sent back to your homeland acting like you originate here. get it straight your from Europe. More than half of you white people dont even know where you come from. American is not an Ethnicity. You talk all this crap about Mexicans just because we are next to you when you dnt even realize that theres just the same amount of Asians, Africans, Europeans ext. we are all hard workers and would do jobs you people are too good for. if anything the country is this way because you are selfish and ignorant. Get your mind straight. put youself in our place. i know that if your country was bad and the country next to you had a better opportunity you would go. yea you all say i would fix my papers blah blah blah bull shit you have to wait 10 years for that. i see no problem with everyone jus getting along helping one another to create a better country. this is a melting pot of people. the country of immigrants. not the country of white people. if you forgot a black man is running this country at the moment n could b an asian a hispanic you never know.


Ralf on Dec 03, 2009 at 10:44:32 said:

you bad white people and, i say bad white people because i have white friends, should all b sent back to your homeland acting like you originate here. get it straight your from Europe. More than half of you white people dont even know where you come from. American is not an Ethnicity. You talk all this crap about Mexicans just because we are next to you when you dnt even realize that theres just the same amount of Asians, Africans, Europeans ext. we are all hard workers and would do jobs you people are too good for. if anything the country is this way because you are selfish and ignorant. Get your mind straight. put youself in our place. i know that if your country was bad and the country next to you had a better opportunity you would go. yea you all say i would fix my papers blah blah blah bull shit you have to wait 10 years for that. i see no problem with everyone jus getting along helping one another to create a better country. this is a melting pot of people. the country of immigrants. not the country of white people. if you forgot a black man is running this country at the moment n could b an asian a hispanic you never know.


Ralf on Dec 03, 2009 at 10:33:10 said:

you bad white people and, i say bad white people because i have white friends, should all b sent back to your homeland acting like you originate here. get it straight your from Europe. More than half of you white people dont even know where you come from. American is not an Ethnicity. You talk all this crap about Mexicans just because we are next to you when you dnt even realize that theres just the same amount of Asians, Africans, Europeans ext. we are all hard workers and would do jobs you people are too good for. if anything the country is this way because you are selfish and ignorant. Get your mind straight. put youself in our place. i know that if your country was bad and the country next to you had a better opportunity you would go. yea you all say i would fix my papers blah blah blah bull shit you have to wait 10 years for that. i see no problem with everyone jus getting along helping one another to create a better country. this is a melting pot of people. the country of immigrants. not the country of white people. if you forgot a black man is running this country at the moment n could b an asian a hispanic you never know.


Natacha on Dec 03, 2009 at 09:03:22 said:

Things hasn't change, there are many ignorant people in this world they weren't recieving benifits in the first place. But like I said people are blind, they recieved for there children that were born here, we can help where we are born, but it is embarrasing as a united states citizen to say I come from a country that would give to oversees to feed people who are killing our people but not to feed the children that are here that are united states citizens, Just remember all of the sayings about anchor babies, next election there will be about a million of those anchor babies that will be turning 18 and will be able to vote and one day one can be president and see how this counrty will change for the better because we have to many americans that won't pick up a piece of paper because they think they are to good but a job is a job and if you are not willing to do it, they have someone who will and it would be your loss.


Stan Blau on Dec 02, 2009 at 18:28:02 said:

Good! And when they sign up, deport them. When did "immigrant community" became the PC description of "illegal aliens." People who break the law to enter this country are criminals. Sent them home to fix their own country. Stop them from bringing this country down to their country's level.


aNNA on Dec 02, 2009 at 15:56:31 said:

ITS VERY SAD WHAT THIS STATE, WAIT , WHAT THIS COUNRTY HAS COME TO... SO MUCH FOR "ONE NATION UNDER GOD" ITS EMBARASSING HOW MANY OF YOU SO CALLED "AMERICANS" CAN BE SO COLD BLOODED AND IGNORANT TO THINK THAT ONE BORDER OR A SIMPLE SSC MAKES YOU BETTER OR GIVES YOU MORE RIGHTS AS A PERSON.


A Hernandez on Dec 02, 2009 at 08:31:29 said:

To the concerned citizen those children you say you are not responsible if you forgot they to are American Citizens.


Mexifornian on Dec 01, 2009 at 11:46:08 said:

Arizona an economic dump...

Why does Arizona have such low home property tax revenues? Could it be to many trailers as a result of no jobs. Ah. Blame a dishwasher.


karen on Dec 01, 2009 at 11:00:32 said:

I still belive in the United States of America. This country its big because theres people around the world that came here looking for freedom, respect and just to have a better life. i just can't understand all the immigrants haters? I didn't born here but i love this country and ask GOD TO BLESS AMERICA.


willie on Nov 30, 2009 at 17:45:37 said:

Sometimes I ask myself..when will all this end? would it be when we the humans worldwide face a catastrofe? I can't imagine the United State of America asking for food to other countries or The US thinking that the blessing is for those who are tall, or short, those who are light color, or dark..but " YOU MAY HAVE THE RAIN,AND FEEL FREE TO BREATH,TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SUN LIGHT..AFTER ALL..still free....for now


I love Arizona on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:41:19 said:

I also work with immigrants from all over the world. All of which came here legally. Some had to wait 5 years for a Visa but they did it the right way because they respect us and they want to start off right in the USA. What a slap in the face to all legal immigrants by allowing this non sense to take place. Illegal means against the law, our law. Wake up Americans!


I love Arizona on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:37:36 said:

I also work with immigrants from all over the world. All of which came here legally. Some had to wait 5 years for a Visa but they did it the right way because they respect us and they want to start off right in the USA. What a slap in the face to all legal immigrants by allowing this non sense to take place. Illegal means against the law, our law. Wake up Americans!


I Love Arizona on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:32:13 said:

I have Peruvian neighbors that are really good friends with us. Aside from their accent they are just like us. Good, honest, hard working people. They came here legally and are the real immigrants. Totally normal people. These illegal border crossers are a different breed. These are low life criminals looking for a hand out that have no respect for us or our laws. Send them home!


Edie on Nov 30, 2009 at 10:21:21 said:

Why should anyone be responsible for what comes out of anyone's body be they illegal or legal or a citizen for that matter. Think about it. They have the freedom to do with their body what they want, yet if what they do with their body involves something that they cannot financially take care of, then someone else is taxed to take care of it financially. The same freedom they exercised to get pregnant should exist for the tax payer to "NOT" take responsibility financially for that child. I am sick of this. And then they want to throw a guilt trip at you. I didn't tell her to make that kid, just like I didn't tell her to cross that border illegally. It's bad enough with have to take care of irresponsible U.S. citizens popping out kids they can't afford. It has to stop somewhere.


Jsmith on Nov 30, 2009 at 08:12:14 said:

Take the hint and go home!


Susan on Nov 30, 2009 at 06:37:04 said:

Oh I'm sorry, did I impregnate you without realizing? I didn't know your child was my responsibility. I thought your actions and the consequences were your responsibility. If you apply for services and you are subsequently deported, then take your kid back to the old country. Dropping a kid here doesn't give you the right to be here. Are we still pretending that the $500 a month you get in food stamps for your 3 kids doesn't feed you, the illegal alien, and your boyfriend, the illegal alien? I hope the law stands. P.S. Good luck with that whole amnesty thing.


Concerned Citizen on Nov 30, 2009 at 04:59:27 said:

Wouldn't Daniel Ortega's actions be considered a conspiracy to commit a crime in this country? He is advising Criminals in the act of committing the crime.. He is guilty of doing this not as an attorney with attornies privileges, but he is conspiring with criminals he doesn't even know. He should be arrested and tried as a co-conspirator, breaking several Federal,State and Local laws..


Concerned Citizen on Nov 30, 2009 at 04:43:00 said:

We have no responsibility to Illegals,or their children. If their children need something, let them return to their country and get it! And I refuse to accept the term "Immigrants" for ILLEGALS. The haven't immigrated, they have illegaly broken our laws and entered our country as a CRIMINAL ! ! ! **SEND THEM ALL BACK**

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