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Arizona police introduce 'show me your papers' law

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On Tuesday 18th September 2012, a US district judge, Judge Susan Bolton, lifted an injunction blocking Arizona police from enforcing a controversial law aimed at illegal immigrants.

The Law, part of Senate Bill 1070, introduced in 2010, provides that police officers who stop anyone in Arizona must ask the person stopped to show proof of his or her right to reside in the US, if the officer believes that the person stopped may be an illegal immigrant.

When Senate Bill 2010 was passed by Arizona governor Jan Brewer in 2010, Judge Bolton granted an injunction to civil rights groups while various appeals against the legality of the act law were heard.

In June 2012, the US Supreme Court considered whether the 'show me your papers' provision was constitutional. It found that it was. Yesterday, Judge Bolton removed the injunction. Governor Brewer said 'Today is the day we have awaited for more than two years'.

Civil rights protestors have argued that the law amounts to 'racial profiling' which is against US law and may result in the harassment of Mexican Americans who make up more than two million of Arizona's population of 6.5m.

Governor Brewer told reporters that state police would 'bring their training and experience to this important task, as well as a solemn commitment to upholding the law. That means all of our laws including those barring racial profiling or discrimination.'

On Wednesday 19th September 2012, Arizona police confirmed that they had begun to enforce the law. The lifting of the injunction has caused great anxiety among illegal immigrants in Arizona.

On Thursday 20th September, a helpline run by the American Civil Liberties Union had taken 4,000 calls. Luz Santiago, a pastor in Mesa, Arizona, told reporters that illegal residents were 'terrified. They fear that they will go to the store to buy groceries and won't get home and their kids will be left alone at school.'

Some illegal residents responded to the lifting of the injunction with defiance. A crowd of 50 protestors gathers outside the offices of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Phoenix on Wednesday. Carlos Garcia of pressure group Puente Arizona (Bridge Arizona) said; 'The big message is we are not afraid, that undocumented people are here standing outside of ICE and telling everyone that we are organised and that we are not going away.'

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