Arizonans Say Immigration Law Will Reduce Crime

An Arizonan holds a sign that reads, "Foreign Invasion."
An Arizonan holds a sign that reads, "Foreign Invasion."

Recent polls show more than 60 percent of Arizonans support the state's tough new immigration law. If outsiders wonder why, Arizonans point to Rob Krentz. He was gunned down this month on his ranch near the border. Investigators think his killer was an illegal immigrant or drug smuggler.

Afterward, long simmering rage about border security became outrage, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.

One Arizonan said, "When something like the murder of Rob Krentz happens it should be game on."

Since the federal government tightened up the California border 15 years ago, Arizona has become the new illegal gateway to the Unites States. One-hundred-five people were caught crossing from Mexico Wednesday, and almost 700,000 have crossed in the last two and a half years.

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"Crime is that bad," said Sheriff of Pinal County Paul Babeu. Pinal County is just south of Phoenix.

"Assaults against police officers, officer-involved shootings, home invasions, carjackings, violent crimes. You ask, why is that? We can clearly point to the flow of illegal immigrants," said Babeu.

Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States, with most instances tied to Mexican drug smugglers.

"We're not going to tolerate it anymore," said Babeu.

That widespread sentiment spurs widespread support for the new immigration law.

"You certainly can't blame all the crime on the illegal immigrants, but it's not helping matters," said Mark Allen.

"This is our state," said Mark Zemel. "These are our borders."

Zemel had his vehicle stolen by smugglers ferrying immigrants across the border illegally.

"This bill will help Arizona," said Zemel. "This is a safe neighborhoods act and it's truly going to serve that purpose."

Protesters out again Friday say the atmosphere in Arizona casts all immigrants as criminals.

"We don't support the racism," said Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon.

Gordon plans to sue to overturn the law. He says the law will hurt the economy more than criminals.

"I've been really pleading with everyone not to boycott Arizona," he said.

Opponents like the mayor and supporters all say this would not be such a hot issue if the federal government took effective action to stop the illegal flow across the border.