College Students Weigh In on New Arizona Immigration Law

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By Cara Hedgepeth > Junior > Journalism > University of Maryland

Last month, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed what many are considering to be one of the toughest pieces of legislation regarding illegal immigration.


According to, the law orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and police are required to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally. College students, like many Americans, have different opinions about what this law means for Arizona—and the country.
“I think right now the law is a positive thing,” said University of Pittsburgh junior Jason Allnutt. “American citizens are tired of being taken advantage of by illegal immigrants who know how to work the system.” While Allnutt says he thinks the law in Arizona will “get the ball rolling,” he says it does have some downfalls and other states shouldn’t rush to draft similar legislation. “There’s a lot of room for error with this law,” he said. “So before more states start to draw up…similar laws, Arizona can sort of be a guinea pig…”
But University of Maryland junior Mara James says she feels the law will only cause problems. She says the wording of the law makes it “absurd.” “First of all, what does it mean to have papers?” James asked. “We don’t technically have papers like that in the U.S.” One of James’ main concerns about the law is the high likelihood for racial profiling. The law states that police are required to question anyone who is suspected of being in the country illegally. “What does looking illegal mean?” asked James. Allnutt on the other hand says “…a case can be made that an illegal immigrant does look and behave in a particular way.”
Many say the law specifically targets Latinos because of Arizona’s proximity to the border and the fact that they are the fastest growing immigrant population in the U.S. “In our society, the image and idea of illegal immigrants is completely focused on Latinos when anyone of color can be or is an immigrant who may or may not be documented,” said James. “[The law] is marginalizing an already completely marginalized population in our country.”
While students like Allnutt and James have strong opinions about the law, others are more torn. “I believe the law is needed, but I do believe it will cause racial profiling,” said Natalie McGugan, a junior at East Carolina University. Despite the potential for racial profiling, McGugan says she’s hopeful that this law will make a difference. “We need to get stricter laws about monitoring illegal immigration and I hope this new law will help to do so.”

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