Debate over Arizona immigration law hits home

May 13, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Illinois and Chicago are considering action against Arizona, despite some polls showing that most Americans agree with the law.

One Illinois lawmaker wants to halt all state business with Arizona.

That type of reaction across the country pushed Arizona's governor to form a special task force Thursday to deal with the backlash that tourism and businesses may face.

The new law would require police to ask people about their immigration status if they find reasonable suspicion that the people are in the country illegally.

Arizona's new immigration law is sparking protests, debates, and comments.

"I was also to go and give a commencement speech in Arizona, but with my accent, I was worried they were going to deport me back to Austria," said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) during a commencement speech at Emory University.

In Chicago, the debate is personal.

"I'm a grandson of Mexican immigrants, OK? This is very important to me," said 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno.

Moreno wants Chicago's City Hall to do more. This week, he introduced a resolution that denounced Arizona's law, and called for Chicago to hold a joint hearing with the Human Relations and Finance Committee in the next few weeks.

In other words, can Chicago cut financial ties to Arizona?

"The city can look into how we purchase goods, how we purchase services, where those come from," said Moreno.

The Illinois House has passed a resolution that not only condemned Arizona's law, but asked Arizona lawmakers to repeal it. House members also want the president and Congress to deal with immigration.

The house resolution does not talk about divesting money, but when it goes to the senate, the co-chair of the legislative Latino caucus sees that happening.

"Divestiture would mean that any Arizona company that does business with the state of Illinois - we would urge that that would be a prohibited practice," said State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago).

When it comes to money, Chicago and Illinois are not alone. Los Angeles voted to boycott Arizona business, and Los Angeles now joins San Francisco and St. Paul, Minnesota in banning travel to the state.

However, some of those following the issue in Chicago believe Illinois and Chicago lawmakers should worry about local issues first.

"For these people to point the finger at Arizona: shame, shame, shame," said Illinois Minuteman Project Founder Rosanna Pulido. "Clean up your own backyard first - then maybe you'll have a voice in other parts of the country."

A new nationwide poll shows that the majority of Americans polled - 59 percent - support Arizona's new law.

Chicago's City Council expects to hold hearings by the end of this month, and the state senate could see a new resolution as early as next week.

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