Arizona immigration law could impact East Texas Hispanics

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Since the Arizona Governor signed the state's new immigration law Friday the protests and demonstrations haven't stopped - drawing attention to the law on a national level.

It's based on suspicion. Arizona's answer to immigration is to have law enforcement stop, search, and detain people who look like an illegal.

"It can be merely a suspicion that they are not legally here," said Tim Garrigan, Nacogdoches Civil Rights Attorney.

The law now makes it a criminal offense to be in the State of Arizona if you're not a legal U.S. citizen.

"All Arizonans no matter where they're from have to carry their documents to show they're her legally," said Richard Fischer, Nacogdoches Immigration Attorney.

Since it's a state law, the new law in Arizona doesn't directly affect East Texans, but according to Nacogdoches Civil Rights Attorney Tim Garrigan, there are other implications.

"Unfortunately even here in Nacogdoches I think if you're a minority if you get stopped in traffic for some reason you're twice as likely to get searched or arrested," said Garrigan.

Laws against racial profiling have made strides to stop the practice, but some think this Arizona law reverses any gains.

"I think its a huge step backward," said Garrigan.

Another indirect consequence could be the negative feelings laws like this create in Hispanic populations across the country.

"Their perspective is they don't want us," said Fischer.

Those feelings divide us says East Texas Immigration Attorney Richard Fischer.

"That creates sentiments that's hard to get over and take a long time," said Fischer.

Although a similar law doesn't appear to be in Texan's immediate future... lawmakers in Washington, are working on immigration reform.

"I think people should make their views known," said Garrigan.

No matter what your views on immigration are - it may be time to speak up.

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