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Abstract

This article examines the political and social forces surrounding the April 23, 2010 passage of Arizona’s stringent immigration enforcement measure, Senate Bill (S.B.) 1070, which empowered local law enforcement to demand proof of legal residency from any person suspected of being undocumented. A person’s failure to produce documentation would result in arrest, detention, investigation, and potentially deportation to his or her nation of origin. Through the law’s lens, the article explores the development of the social tension that followed Arizona’s explosive population growth, and examines how Arizona’s large Hispanic population has been unable to assert itself at the ballot box or in statewide government. The article argues that the political exigencies of Arizona are dissimilar from the other border states, explaining why measures such as S.B. 1070 have failed elsewhere. The author employs local and national news sources from the time of the the bill’s consideration, U.S. Census Bureau population data, and case studies and journal articles on Hispanic political organization to explore this unique and fascinating battle over public policy, society, and identity.