Maria Uribe of Arizona prays the rosary outside the Supreme Court building in Washington April 25 as the court prepared to hear arguments in a case challenging Arizona's tough immigration law. Uribe, other immigrants and their supporters demonstrated out side the building in opposition to the state law. "I pray for the right decision," she said. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
In Arizona, waiting on high court's take on immigration law
April 29, 2012
By J.D. Long-Garcia
Catholic News Service
PHOENIX (CNS) -- When Manuela Escamilla immigrated to the United States 20 years ago, she wasn't looking for work. She'd been widowed 12 years and had made ends meet for herself and her eight children in Mexico.
Instead of employment, Escamilla came to be with her children, who had already immigrated. She moved in with a daughter, staying at home to care for her grandchildren.
It was easier to come into the United States then, she said, before a barrage of measures aiming to crack down on illegal immigration in Arizona. Escamilla joined a few dozen others gathered at the state Capitol April 25, praying for the Supreme Court's decision on S.B. 1070.
"I want it to be fixed," she said of the tough measure that Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law two years ago. "It's not for me as much as it is for my children."
She knows many families affected by the law -- or at least by the perception of it. The most controversial aspects of the law have been blocked by a federal court and are under review by the Supreme Court. Those provisions would require law enforcement officers to verify the immigration status of anyone stopped and would make it a crime not to carry proof of immigration status. The police would have also been able to make arrests without warrants if they suspected someone was in the country illegally.
Provisions that went into effect make it a state crime to be in Arizona illegally and require law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws to their fullest extent.
Escamilla, a parishioner at St. Matthew Church, told the Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Phoenix Diocese, that she knows of families who left everything behind after a parent was caught and deported, leaving apartments full of belongings. Others gave up, moving to another state or back to their country of origin.
Aurelio Alva Rodriguez, a parishioner at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, said those who support S.B. 1070 don't want to accept that this is a country of immigrants.
"The most important thing is to respect the rights we have as persons," he said, "so that we can develop and prosper together. We want to be free so that we can work and all will benefit economically."
A handful of S.B. 1070 supporters also gathered at the Capitol, including Mike Keating of Chandler.
"I don't understand the charge of racism," he said. "If you can't come up with a rational argument, don't resort to name-calling. They broke the law -- I don't care what color their skin is."
Maria Duran, a parishioner of St. Agnes, was part of a 103-day vigil on the Capitol lawn two years ago. The vigil resumed a few days before the law was argued in the Supreme Court. Participants traveled to Washington to pray outside the court as the justices took up the case.
"This law has had a profound effect -- we wait on God to remove it," she said. "Some have lost their parents, others have lost their children. It's dividing families and it's leaving many people without work."
William DeSantiago, an immigration attorney who works with Catholic Charities in Phoenix, said many of his clients have suffered because of the tougher laws.
"When you're afraid to walk out the door because you're afraid that someone will take your wife, what does that remind you of?" he said. "As Catholics, we're supposed to be on the side of the immigrant."
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Long-Garcia is on the staff of the Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops