Ariz. immigrants taught to cope with new law

With the greenlight on the "show me your papers" provision of Arizona's immigration law, some undocumented immigrants are being taught how to react.
CBS News

(CBS News) PHOENIX - Critics of Arizona's controversial immigration law are on alert. This week, a federal judge gave the state the go-ahead to enforce the "show me your papers" provision of the law. Now some undocumented immigrants are being taught how to respond.

As night falls on a Mesa, Arizona park, worried families, many of them undocumented immigrants, are instructed on what to say if questioned by police.

Instructor: "You want a lawyer?"

Woman: "Yes."

New Ariz. immigration law begins, with questions

Civil rights groups are also teaching people how to use cell phones to record video if stopped by the police. The training session was a response to Arizona's law that took effect this week. It allows police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they stop, giving rise to fears of racial profiling.

Defenders of the law say police will not use race when deciding whom to question about immigration status.

"The focal point is the conduct, not the color of the skin," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. "And that allows police officers to fairly distinguish between those who by the virtue of their conduct then come under suspicion for investigation, and those who aren't."

But those who came to this meeting fear they will be targets of the law and that their families will be divided.

"We've seen in many of these communities that a lot of parents have the punishment for being here without documents has been losing their kids," said Diana Ramirez from the civil rights group Puente, "and not being reunited when they are deported."

So parents came to have documents signed and notarized, turning over legal custody of their American-born children to someone they trust, should deportation become a reality.

Angelica Sanchez has four children aged 4 to 13. If she is sent back to Mexico, her children would stay here.

"Because my kids were born here. I want them to go to school. I want them to have a better life," she said.

These parents say they'll give their children that better life, even if they can't be here with them.

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.