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Arizona immigration law spurs education campaign

(AP) PHOENIX - An education campaign for illegal immigrants to remain largely silent when they're pulled over by police is being put into practice in Arizona after a federal judge ruled that the most contentious part of the state's immigration law can take effect.

Natally Cruz and Leticia Ramirez wanting to know what their rights are if officers question their immigration status.

Lydia Guzman, leader of the civil rights group Respect-Respeto, said additional volunteers are being sought to answer calls and document reports of abuses. If a police agency plans a special immigration patrol, volunteers armed with video cameras will be sent there to capture footage of traffic stops, Guzman said.

Arizona lawmakers passed the law in 2010 amid voter frustration with the state's role as the busiest illegal entry point in the country. Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah — have adopted variations on Arizona's law.

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It's a tool for local police, but it won't cure the state's immigration woes, said Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure.

"Only the federal government has the resources and responsibility necessary to achieve that," Brewer said.

The law's opponents are spreading out across the state, asking police departments not to enforce the provision. The incentive they offer: better cooperation from immigrants who would be more likely to report crimes, said Carlos Garcia, an organizer with immigrant rights group the Puente Movement.

Not enforcing the provision could open up officers to lawsuits from people claiming the agencies aren't fully enforcing the law.

Some backers of the requirement, including Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, have questioned the level of cooperation they will get from federal immigration agents.

Federal officials say they will check people's immigration status when officers call. But they'll send an agent to arrest someone only when it fits with their priorities, such as catching repeat violators and those who are a threat to public safety and national security.

Cruz, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, said she has never been pulled over in the United States but fears the law will lead to racial profiling and will separate families.

Bolton initially blocked the provision after the Obama administration challenged it on the grounds that federal immigration law trumps state law. She has said opponents are speculating on racial profiling claims.

Ramirez said she isn't willing to give up 18 years in the United States over a law she sees as a threat to her livelihood.

Her father brought their family to the U.S. from Torreon in the Mexican state of Coahuila because he couldn't find work there and wanted a better future for them.

She's been a visible part of the legal battle because she sees importance in her education mission, particularly for those who don't get involved in immigrant-rights groups or don't watch television to keep up-to-date on the law.

"That's what I'm afraid of — that a lot of the people don't know what to do," Ramirez said.

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