Outrage at Arizona Immigration Law Reflected in Hispanic Media

A new Arizona law criminalizing undocumented immigrants in that state is the number 1 story in Spanish-language media across the nation,  a reflection of the Hispanic community’s outrage and concern over the measure.

Univision reports that immigrant advocate groups are calling for an outright boycott: not stepping on Arizona soil, not buying from Arizona-based businesses, canceling contracts, and breaking any and all links with the southwestern state.

It wouldn’t be the first time Arizona has been subject to an economic boycott.  Due to its refusal to adopt Martin Luther King Day in the 1980s and early 1990s, the state lost hundreds of conventions, thousands of tourists, and even a contract for the Super Bowl until it approved the holiday in 1993.

Local leaders in San Francisco and Los Angeles are calling for city-wide boycotts of Arizona. Even Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has called on industries to reject his own state. “It’s about sending a message,” he said.

On it’s website, Univision has a survey about the law,  known as SB 1070.  Out of nearly 8000 responses,  75%  believe it should be annulled, 15% believe it should be condemned, 7% believe it should be replicated in other states and 3% believe it should be enforced.

Much of the Spanish-language media has documented peaceful protests, including a student walkout, and as Fi2W reported, the “Capitol 9” youth who chained themselves to the State Capitol building. Perhaps in response, Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, who authored SB 1070, has another piece of legislation pending in the state legislature that would target undocumented students, according to the blog Latino Politico.

Spanish language media is following the daily protests closely. La Raza reported that some immigrant sympathizers were arrested in Chicago on Tuesday. And on Monday there was an act of vandalism: someone smeared refried beans in the shape of swastikas on the Arizona State Capitol’s windows.

Many immigrant advocates are saying that SB 1070 should motivate Congress to move on federal immigration reform and the DREAM Act, especially since President Obama stated his opposition to the Arizona’s law. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate challenging Governor Charlie Crist in the Florida U.S. Senate race, also stated his opposition Tuesday.

But the issue of undocumented immigrants is politically tricky, and as Impre reports, it’s unclear which party will end up with the upper hand.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed that Congress take up the issue before climate reform, the backlash was fierce, especially from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who had previously pushed for an immigration bill. Reid reversed his position on Tuesday.

In Latin America, Mexican, Ecuadorian and Bolivian officials are among those calling the law a step backwards for the U.S.  The Mexican Catholic archdiosese wrote an editorial in the journal Desde la Fe this weekend which said the law violated the human rights of the undocumented, and the Mexican government issued a travel alert to its citizens in Arizona, due to “a negative political environment for migrant communities and for all Mexican visitors.”

Impre reported that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is considering “the possibility of a court challenge.”  Holder said he was afraid the law would be abused. “I am very concerned about the wedge that it could draw between communities that law enforcement is supposed to serve and those of us in law enforcement,” he continued.

Rallies to protest the law are planned across the nation this Saturday, May 1st.


AboutSarah Kate Kramer
Sarah Kate Kramer first got hooked on collecting stories as a StoryCorps facilitator, then traveled the world with a microphone for a few years before settling down in her hometown of New York City. From 2010-2012 she was the editor of Feet in 2 Worlds and a freelance reporter for WNYC Radio, where she created “Niche Market,” a weekly segment that profiled specialty stores in New York. Sarah is now a producer at Radio Diaries, a non-profit that produces documentaries for NPR and other public radio outlets.