Arizona has shaken up the national debate on illegal immigrants with its tough new immigration law. With the support of 70 percent of their constituents, lawmakers told police that if they have a "reasonable suspicion" someone is in the country illegally, they must check his or her documents. Critics say Arizonans are acting like Nazis, and turning Arizona into an "apartheid state." But Eve Conant says in Newsweek that the real bad guys aren't the citizens and politicians of Arizona. The villains, Conant says, are the people who are really responsible for the problems linked to the state's porous border with Mexico. Here's an excerpt:
"It's terrifying to live next door to homes filled with human traffickers, drug smugglers, AK-47s, pit bulls, and desperate laborers stuffed 30 to a room, shoes removed to hinder escape. During a month's reporting with police and other law-enforcement agents in Arizona last year, I met many scared people. One man who lived next to a 'drop house' for Mexican workers slept with two guns under his bed, his children not allowed to play in the backyard. The sound of gunshots was not uncommon. 'Four years ago this neighborhood was poodles and old ladies,' he said, too frightened to give his name. 'Now it's absolutely insane.' That morning, authorities had raided the drop house. When the neighbor told me how his kids had been evacuated behind riot shields, he began to cry. Others, too, were unhappy: the undocumented workers taken from the house were exhausted, sweaty, and dead quiet as they sat on a curb with their hands cuffed, waiting to be taken away."