Last Updated:November 27 @ 11:19 am

Illegals teach others how to get around AZ immigration law

By Felicia Fonseca and Jacques Billeaud

PHOENIX (AP) - An education campaign for illegal immigrants to remain largely silent when they're pulled over by police is being put into practice in Arizona after a federal judge ruled that the most contentious part of the state's immigration law can take effect.

Natally Cruz and Leticia Ramirez have been telling immigrants who are in the United States illegally, like themselves, that they should offer only their name and date of birth — and carry no documents that show where they were born.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton ruled Tuesday that police can immediately start enforcing the law's so-called "show me your papers" provision. It requires officers, while enforcing other laws, to question the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally.

Ramirez and Cruz had remained hopeful the provision would be blocked, but they were preparing by sending a message to communities of illegal immigrants that they should respectfully stand their ground against police.

"We want to teach the community how to defend themselves, how to answer to police, how to be prepared, and to have confidence that they're going to have help," Ramirez said.

Bolton's decision is the latest milestone in a two-year legal battle over the requirement.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the provision in June on the grounds that it doesn't conflict with federal law. Opponents responded by asking Bolton to block the requirement on different grounds, arguing its enforcement would lead to systematic racial profiling and unreasonably long detentions of Latinos. Bolton said early this month she wouldn't block the provision.

A coalition of civil rights groups is awaiting a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on their latest effort to prevent the questioning requirement from taking effect.

A hotline operated by civil rights advocates recently has been fielding calls from people wanting to know what their rights are if officers question their immigration status.

Lydia Guzman, leader of the civil rights group Respect-Respeto, said additional volunteers are being sought to answer calls and document reports of abuses. If a police agency plans a special immigrationpatrol, volunteers armed with video cameras will be sent there to capture footage of traffic stops, Guzman said.

Arizona lawmakers passed the law in 2010 amid voter frustration with the state's role as the busiest illegal entry point in the country. Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona's law.

It's a tool for local police, but it won't cure the state's immigration woes, said Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure.

"Only the federal government has the resources and responsibility necessary to achieve that," Brewer said.

The law's opponents are spreading out across the state, asking police departments not to enforce the provision. The incentive they offer: better cooperation from immigrants who would be more likely to report crimes, said Carlos Garcia, an organizer with immigrant rights group the Puente Movement.

Not enforcing the provision could open up officers to lawsuits from people claiming the agencies aren't fully enforcing the law.

Some backers of the requirement, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have questioned the level of cooperation they will get from federal immigration agents.

Federal officials say they will check people's immigration status when officers call. But they'll send an agent to arrest someone only when it fits with their priorities, such as catching repeat violators and those who are a threat to public safety and national security.

Cruz, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, said she has never been pulled over in the United States but fears the law will lead to racial profiling and will separate families.

Bolton initially blocked the provision after the Obama administration challenged it on the grounds that federal immigration law trumps state law. She has said opponents are speculating on racial profiling claims.

Ramirez said she isn't willing to give up 18 years in the United States over a law she sees as a threat to her livelihood.

Her father brought their family to the U.S. from Torreon in the Mexican state of Coahuila because he couldn't find work there and wanted a better future for them.

She's been a visible part of the legal battle because she sees importance in her education mission, particularly for those who don't get involved in immigrant-rights groups or don't watch television to keep up-to-date on the law.

"That's what I'm afraid of — that a lot of the people don't know what to do," Ramirez said.


Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Ariz.

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  1. csbridgComment by csbridg
    September 19, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    Illegal is illegal. That means NOT legal and they should be sent home. I work with several people who are here from other countries but they have gone through the proper channels and are here legally. It can be done.
    That being said, this law gives me chills. It reminds me of when Hitler began requiring Jews to carry papers. I know this is a different situation but with America slowly (or maybe not so slowly) moving toward socialism or worse, it kind of gives me pause. Most of our freedoms have been whittled away by starting with something that most people dislike. Smoking in public places for instance. While that may have been justified, it was just the beginning of small steps that lead to a big result.

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    • thewizardofazComment by thewizardofaz
      September 19, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

      It’s absolutely nothing like Hitler and the Jews. Goodness. The Jews were all citizens of the countries in which they resided. None of them crossed a border illegally until well after Hitler started rounding them up. They weren’t sent home either, they were sent to gas chambers. What is wrong with you?

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      September 19, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

      Natally Cruz and Leticia Ramirez, We know where you live so Let the Arizona cops hunt them down and begin deportation. Self admitted criminals. Let them get to the back of the line for re-admitance and only under OUR approval.

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    • Brian in MIComment by Brian in MI
      September 19, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

      Are aware that if you travel to Mexico, YOU are required to
      carry your papers?

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    • BobinmsComment by Bobinms
      September 20, 2012 @ 11:21 am

      A legal immigrant from England wrote an letter to the editor complaining it took him years to become a citizen and why shouldn’t everybody else have to comply with the law. He took exception to frequent use of the words “undocumented immigrant” and said use of this term is like calling a shop lifter and un-receipted customer. I seems the whole world can identify the problem except for the media and politicians.

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  2. hdmaniaComment by hdmania
    September 19, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    I get tired of people who are illegal whining about profiling or wanting to use the race card..if at first meeting all we can see is your race so what..when we see an illegal mexican what are we suppose to do?..turn away and act like you dont exist?..I bet you would like that huh?..we’re on you illegals like stink on s–t…too bad..if you dont like it get the h-ll out and go home..

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  3. bluecb13Comment by bluecb13
    September 19, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

    It is just unbelievable to me that these criminals come to this country for the free handout that we’re stupid enough to give them. They come because this country is as it is because we live by a set of laws and now these clowns think that they should be the exception. Frankly I think that if Obama wants them here, I would gladly step up and donate enough to ship them to D. C. and let Obama have them. As far as the woamn writing her stupid comment about “being here for 18 years” just shows that she and those of her ilk shoub be in jail for being an habituial criminal. Go Sheriff Arpiao !

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  4. Bobbie BusheyComment by Bobbie Bushey
    September 19, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    What I would like to know is why someone like Ms. Ramirez, who is obviously educated enough to “educate” other illegals on how to avoid the laws of this land, she doesn’t use this intelligence to become an American citizen–after 18 years in this country illegally–and direct her energy toward helping these people become citizens. That would be a win-win situation for everyone, unless they are here for other purpose than to follow the laws of the land and prosper legally.

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    • drsiqueComment by drsique
      September 19, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

      Good question! I remeber seeing a guy interviewed on the news back when illegals were having their big foreign flag waving marches. This guy was complaining that he had been in the country for some 23 years and wasn’t legalized yet. First, the guy had been here for more than two decades and the news crew had to use an interpreter because he didn’t speak a word of english. Second, when I did the math, at the time, he would have been eligible for legalization under the Reagan amnesty. He was just angry that noone had come looking for him to give him his green card. In my opinion, anyone whose first act upon arriving to this country is to break federal law is not the kind of person we should be welcoming.

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  5. Comment by gopusa1994
    September 19, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    Great question, Bobbie. I’ve wondered that myself in the past, so I looked into it and it turns out that once someone’s in the country illegally there’s generally no way for them to become legalized. In certain cases, such as if they were originally on a visa, they can get legalized if they marry a US citizen, but for people who crossed illegally in the first place there is currently no path to legalization except in very special circumstances (like being the victim of a violent crime who helps the police bring the perpetrator to justice).

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    • cxComment by genesal
      September 19, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

      They can go back home and try to come here legally. There should be a penalty for trying to jump the line. They caused their own predicament not us.

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  6. Jimmy ChangaComment by Jimmy Changa
    September 19, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

    “That’s what I’m afraid of — that a lot of the people don’t know what to do,” Ramirez said.

    Very simply, go back to wherever you came from!

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  7. thewizardofazComment by thewizardofaz
    September 19, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    I agree with every comment, except the one about the Jews. Just a note. My grandfather came here in 1929. He brought his mother. She was returned back to Europe because they said she had TB. She lived until the mid 40s when the Nazis killed her.

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  8. johntComment by johnt
    September 20, 2012 @ 9:51 am

    well Ms. Ramirez, you said the key word several times in your comments. “ILLEGAL” ! ! ! you claim to have been here for 18 years stating that your father brought his family here looking for a better life. with this i commend your dad for wanting a better way of life for his family. but in that 18 years none of the Ramirez family has taken into concideration the laws of this great land you and your family invaded. if you did you and your family members would have followed the proper proceedures and atleast applied for citizenship by now. but, everyone in your family along with 10′s of millons of illegals of all races, creeds and nationalities have decieded to do the same as the Rameriz family and “break the law” ! ! ! now you seem to have a solution for this problem, but what your doing is taking the chance of having everyone who don’t have ID thrown in jail. Have you ever heard of the charge,”failure to ID”? this can cost anyone about 72 hours in jail until the police figure out if you are who you say you are. so go ahead and pass on your comments to all the illegals and i’m going to bet you that in the long run you’ll hurt your people more than help. if you wanted to be a model for your people to follow you should apply for citizenship and encourage others in the same boat to do the same…

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  9. americanjoeComment by americanjoe
    September 20, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    Anyone that supports the illegal immigrants either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the impact they have on our country as a whole. We have enough takers in this country that are documented. The last thing we need is more takers. My 12 year old made the comment to me about how many kids are on the free lunch program at his school. He said “I don’t understand how so many kids I see on the free lunch program get picked up from school in new or almost new Expeditions and Escalades. How can their parents afford to drive a car like that, but not afford to pay for their kid’s lunch?” This made me curious about his school demographics. His school is 75% economically disadvantaged. I don’t see how that can be, the housing in my area is not cheap and there are no apartments in the school district and there is no “busing in” at the school. So how can there be such a large population of economically disadvantaged in the area? Well, if one or both of your parents are working for cash money your taxable income does not reflect your actual income. The school has no way of determining whether or not you really are economically disadvantaged, so we and the rest of the tax payers pay the bill for their kid’s to eat free lunch. Of course this is just one example, but this same principle applies to many other entitlements. Food stamps, financial assistance, Medicaid, etc. the system is being cheated and so are the tax payers. The country is 16 trillion in debt and growing, if you don’t think all the illegal immigrants have contributed to this, I have I bridge I’d like to sell you. It needs to stop, but the liberal democrats won’t let that happen. They won’t let the country heal itself. They should be ashamed of themselves for supporting illegal immigration.

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    • marysteeleyorktownvaComment by marysteeleyorktownva
      October 17, 2012 @ 12:34 am

      They should be kicked out just like the Democrats that support them over legal immigrants and citizens rights to the jobs and resources they take, leaving others unable to put food on the table and a roof over their head, which should be restircted to those here legally, everybody else-leave!

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