Angel Castro at the scene of his arrest for a traffic infraction. The original charges were dismissed, but Castro still faces deportation. (Courtesy of Erik S. Lesser/Southern Poverty Law Center)
Come Nov. 1, the Department of Justice will once again spar with Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona over her state's controversial immigration-enforcement law, SB 1070 -- this time before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel is set to decide whether to lift a lower court's block on key parts of SB 1070, including a requirement that police officers check the immigration status of anyone they have "reasonable suspicion" is here unlawfully. Critics, who say the provision could lead to racial profiling, have applauded the federal government for stepping in to defend civil liberties and asserting its constitutional authority to regulate immigration.
Students pushing for passage of the DREAM Act on Capitol Hill. (Flickr/DreamActivist)
Latino voters -- the fastest-growing group of swing voters in the country -- are a key constituency both for Democrats and the Obama administration. But Latino voters are increasingly disillusioned by President Barack Obama's failure to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform even as Arizona and other states take matters into their own hands. That could help spell doom for the Democrats in the upcoming midterms and in 2012.
"There is major frustration with the failure of the president and both parties in Congress to move anything forward that would provide humane relief," said Gabriela Villareal, policy coordinator for the New York Immigration Coalition's 200 member organizations.
Supporters of D.C.'s ban of the Secure Communities program at City Hall. (Stokely Baksh)
Two weeks ago, Arizona passed the nation's strictest immigration law, SB 1070, which requires local police to demand proof of citizenship if they suspect a person is undocumented. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton condemned the measure, saying it would get in the way of federal programs designed to target, "identify, and remove criminal aliens."
One of these programs, Secure Communities, is already in place in seven Arizona counties and more than 150 other jurisdictions nationwide. It operates by enlisting states to run arrest data from local jails against a federal database of immigration records. ICE agents then use the system to deport people living in the country illegally and legal residents with criminal convictions.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga., is operated on contract by Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest private prison firm. (AP Photo/Kate Brumback)
Maria del Carmen Garcia-Martinez recently emerged from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) holding cell in Maricopa County, Arizona, with her arm broken and her hand covered in blue ink. She had been booked for forgery at a Phoenix jail, where six officers twisted her arm after she resisted putting her fingerprint on what she thought was a form that would deport her to Mexico.