The swastika made of refried beans smeared onto the glass doors of the Arizona State Capitol this week captured the anger of Hispanics at the law authorizing local police to question anyone reasonably suspected of being in the United States illegally. The controvesial law, which critics say is a mandate for racial profiling, has galvanized the country’s largest minority that is expected to turn out in large numbers at planned rallies in more than 70 U.S. cities.
Hispanics were disappointed that President Barack Obama failed to deliver on his campaign promise to overhaul the immigration system in his first year in office. The Pew Research Center says 76 percent of the estimated 11.9 million illegal immigrants in the United States are Hispanics. The Latino community sees the undocumented immigrants as contributing with their labor to the growth of the U.S. economy and deserve the right to be legal residents.
The Arizona measure was criticized by other minorities. “This law is un-American as it unjustly targets communities of color, in particular immigrant communities, which have been critical to the economic growth of our country throughout its history,” said Michael Honda, chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Republican backers of the law say it is needed to curb crime in Arizona, a desert state that is a major corridor for drug and migrant smugglers from Mexico.
Democrats, particularly those with shaky re-election prospects in mid-terms in November, are worried about losing Latino votes. The outcry has injected new life into efforts to move immigration reform through Congress. Democratic leaders in the Senate unveiled an outline of how to overhaul the system on Thursday.
One day after he said Congress may not have “the appetite now” to tackle immigration reform, President Barack Obama welcomed the reform proposal saying it had “become increasingly clear” the country can longer wait to fix the “broken immigration system.”