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Arizona immigration law: two rallies, two very different views

Supporters and critics of the Arizona immigration law held rallies in the Phoenix area Saturday. The anti-law rally appeared larger, but the pro-law forces have more national support, polls say.

By Lourdes MedranoContributor / May 30, 2010

People recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of a rally against illegal immigration in Tempe, Ariz., Saturday. The rally was organized by members of the 'tea party' movement to show support for he Arizona immigration law, SB 1070.




Thousands of people, including some from other states, converged in the Phoenix area Saturday to show support or disdain for Arizona’s controversial immigration law.

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Though crowd numbers were not available, the daylong march through Phoenix against the law, SB 1070, appeared larger than the evening rally at a baseball stadium in support of the law.

The law, which requires local and state authorities to determine whether suspects are in the country illegally, has drawn widespread criticism from human-rights groups, some law-enforcement officials, and President Obama, who says it could lead to discrimination.

Several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have boycotted Arizona.

Yet polls suggest that vast majority of Arizonans – and even a majority of Americans – back the law. In this respect, the evening rally, organized by “tea party” groups, gave voice to opinions not often heard outside Arizona, yet – if the polls are correct – shared by most Americans.

Speakers, addressing a mostly white crowd gathered at the stadium in Tempe, time and again emphasized that SB 1070 is not about race but the rule of law. Attendees echoed the sentiment.

“I have relatives that are legal immigrants, we have friends that are legal immigrants from everywhere, and I think it’s a slap in the face to all of them who have come here legally,” says Tina McClendon, who lives in Phoenix.

Rafael Parra, a construction worker from Tempe, says the law does not give law enforcement officials the authority to engage in racial profiling: “It only allows them to do their job.”

He supports the law because Arizona must get a handle on illegal immigration. Says Mr. Parra: “I see myself as an American, not a Latino.”