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Petitions vs. Ariz. immigration law dropped

Associated Press / May 11, 2010

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PHOENIX — The two proposed referendum drives challenging Arizona’s new sweeping law targeting illegal immigration are being abandoned, organizers said yesterday.

Andrew Chavez, a professional petition circulator involved in one of the efforts, said its backers pulled the plug after concluding they might not be able to time their petition filings in such a way as to put the law on hold pending a 2012 public vote.

Jon Garrido, the chief organizer of the other drive, attributed its end to a belief that the law would have been subject to legal protections under Arizona’s Constitution if approved by Arizona voters.

The law takes effect July 29 unless blocked by court action being sought under several pending legal challenges filed by civil-rights groups and others.

Its provisions include requiring that police enforcing another law must question a person about his or her immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States illegally. It also makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

Critics have said the law will result in racial profiling of Hispanics.

Supporters deny that and say the law will pressure illegal immigrants to leave the country on their own.

Chavez said his clients, whom he would not identify, launched the effort in the belief that they could put the law on hold until 2012 by not filing petition signatures until it was too late for state elections officials to place a referendum on the November ballot.

However, the backers decided over the weekend to end the referendum campaign when they concluded there still might be a November vote, not giving them enough time to be confident about being able to wage a successful campaign against the law, Chavez said.