Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Charles Bab­bing­ton, Jac­ques Billeaud and Amanda Lee My­ers

Democrats and Repub­li­cans take a wait-to-see ap­proach to han­dling con­tro­ver­sial law’s fall­out

WASHINGTON — On the sur­face, a judge’s de­ci­sion to block tough pro­vi­sions of Ari­zona’s im­mi­gra­tion law was a de­feat for the state’s Repub­li­can gover­nor and a win for the Demo­cratic Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. But nei­ther party is sure it will play out that way po­lit­i­cally, ei­ther this fall or be­yond.

Be­yond Ari­zona, where street demon­stra­tions took place Thurs­day, politi­cians took a wait-and-see stance.

Washington-based GOP con­sul­tant Ron Bon­jean said Repub­li­cans must pro­ceed care­fully with His­panic vot­ers. Repub­li­cans can hurt them­selves for years to come if they ap­pear un­duly hos­tile to im­mi­grants who came here il­le­gally years ago, or seem in­dif­fer­ent to the rights of those here legally.

“The im­mi­gra­tion is­sue is so sen­si­tive,” Bon­jean said. “While Repub­li­cans are us­ing it to fire up con­ser­va­tives and in­de­pen­dents, they’ll have to find ways to talk about it with­out alien­at­ing His­panic vot­ers.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Thurs­day that Democrats are wrong to say Repub­li­cans are hid­ing prej­u­dices be­hind the ban­ner of na­tional safety.

“There are some peo­ple who think that it’s a trick, that when we say it’s border se­cu­rity, that we’re not in­ter­ested in a broader im­mi­gra­tion bill,” Cornyn said in an in­ter­view at the Capi­tol. “I stand ready, will­ing and able to en­gage, but it’s go­ing to take some pres­i­den­tial lead­er­ship.”

Democrats also were try­ing to sort out the rul­ing’s ef­fect. It showed that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, which sued Ari­zona to block the law’s im­ple­men­ta­tion, had a vi­able le­gal ar­gu­ment that the re­sponse to il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion should be na­tional, not piece­meal. A demonstrator shouts into a bull­horn Thurs­day to protest of Ari­zona’s im­mi­gra­tion law in front of Mari­copa County Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio’s of­fice in Phoenix.

White House press sec­re­tary Robert Gibbs ac­knowl­edged that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s im­mi­gra­tion stand may give some Demo­cratic can­di­dates heart­burn this fall, but he said Obama doesn’t make de­ci­sions “based on polling.”

Tech­ni­cally, SB 1070 took ef­fect Thurs­day, but U.S. District Judge Su­san Bolton’s rul­ing barred most of its pro­vi­sions un­til a trial on the bill’s con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity.

In the state’s ap­peal, Gov. Jan Brewer asked the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals to over­turn the tem­po­rary in­junc­tion as soon as pos­si­ble. Oral ar­gu­ments could be­gin in Septem­ber.

The show­down over the im­mi­gra­tion law played out on Phoenix’s streets Thurs­day, as the state sought to re­in­state parts of the mea­sure and an­gry pro­test­ers chanted that they re­fused to “live in fear.” Dozens were ar­rested.

Hun­dreds of the law’s op­po­nents massed at a Phoenix jail, beat­ing on the metal door and forc­ing sher­iff’s deputies to call for backup. Of­fi­cers ar­rested at least 32 peo­ple, and dozens more were de­tained else­where through­out the day.

Ac­tivists fo­cused their rage at Mari­copa County Sher­iff Joe Ar­paio, the 78-year-old ex-fed­eral drug agent known for his im­mi­gra­tion sweeps.

Out­side his of­fice, marchers chanted “Sher­iff Joe, we are here. We will not live in fear.” Ar­paio said he’d con­tinue with a sweep Thurs­day.

“I’m not go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated and stopped,” he said. “If I have to go out and get in the car, I’ll do it.”

In Tuc­son, 50 to 100 peo­ple on both sides of the is­sue gath­ered at a street corner. Pro­test­ers blocked a busy Los An­ge­les in­ter­sec­tion and po­lice ar­rested about a dozen who were linked with plas­tic pipes and chains.

In New York, about 300 im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates ral­lied near the fed­eral courthouse in Man­hat­tan.

“It’s one step closer for us, but I think the fight is still ahead,” said Adelfa Lugo, a 56-year-old Mex­i­can-born Brook­lyn res­i­dent who joined the protest. “If we don’t fight this in Ari­zona, this anti-im­mi­grant feel­ing will spread across the coun­try.”

Matt York


Ralph Freso

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