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Group Prepares to Fight Passage of AZ Style Immigration Law in Michigan

May 13, 2010

LANSING, Mich. - Arizona's hotly debated new immigration law is raising the interest of at least two Michigan legislators, who say they want to introduce similar legislation in their state. But supporters of immigration reform are already gearing up to fight the move by Reps. Bill Rogers and Kim Meltzer.

Reform Immigration for America is bringing together leaders of Michigan's Latino and Middle Eastern communities in an effort to convince lawmakers not to follow Arizona's lead. Michigan Hispanic Bar Association president Lawrence Garcia says during this rough economy, people are looking to place blame.

"It's not a bill that we believe is gonna solve any problems, but it really pays lip service to a lot of latent racism and growing animosity that's increasing in America. We have to collectively work to resist the urge in tough times to scapegoat people and to pick on the weakest among us."

Reform Immigration America and other groups say passing similar legislation in Michigan would hurt the economy. American-Arab Chamber of Commerce executive director Fay Beydoun says business leaders from other countries will go elsewhere.

"If you were an international investor or businessman, why would you make an investment in Michigan if you had to worry about being stopped, asked for your papers and harassed every time you tried to conduct business or come into the state? If you were a technology company that wanted to bring the best and brightest to Michigan, why would you want to subject your workers to possible harassment?"

The new Arizona law gives police agencies legal authority to request proof of citizenship, a practice that many politicians and civil rights advocates believe will invite racial profiling.

Amy Miller/Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MI