PHOENIX — Civil rights advocates vowed Saturday to challenge Arizona's tough new law targeting illegal immigration, saying it will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics despite the governor's assurance abuses won't be tolerated.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill that supporters said would take handcuffs off police in dealing with illegal immigration in Arizona, the nation's busiest gateway for human and drug smuggling from Mexico and home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.
The law requires police to question people about their immigration status — including asking for identification — if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. It has sparked fears among legal immigrants and U.S. citizens that they'll be harassed by police just because they look Hispanic.
Opponents of the law lingered at the state Capitol on Saturday, and others gathered in Tucson.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association announced it would move its September conference from Scottsdale, Ariz., to another state.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund said it plans a legal challenge to the law, which it said "launches Arizona into a spiral of pervasive fear, community distrust, increased crime and costly litigation."
William Sanchez, president of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders Legal Defense Fund, said his group is preparing a federal lawsuit against Arizona to stop the law from being applied.