Apparently, in Arizona, illegal immigrants get the boot. But refugees get the welcome mat. Only three states accepted more refugees on a per capita basis over the past six years. Furthermore, Arizona took nearly twice as many refugees per capita as its liberal neighbor, California, and more than twice as many per capita as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
According to the vice president at the International Rescue Committee, which resettles refugees in a dozen states, in the degree of welcome and receptivity, he would certainly put Arizona at the top.
The work contrasts with the state’s renown as the scourge of illegal immigrants, whom critics blame for driving up crime, stealing jobs and burdening hospitals and schools.
In addition, the State Senator, a Republican who is a leading critic of illegal immigration claimed they are not anti-immigrant, however they expect people to follow the law.
Numerically, the groups do not compare; Arizona took in about 4,700 refugees last year, but is thought to have about 375,000 illegal immigrants. Refugees are not economic migrants but survivors of war and persecution whom the United States admits for humanitarian and foreign policy reasons.
Arizona first drew refugees because the cost of living is low, and until the recession the state had lots of entry-level jobs open to non-English speakers, like housekeeping and lawn care.
Last year, the federal government admitted about 75,000 refugees, out of 10.5 million worldwide, and it covers most resettlement costs. State officials administer the money and help decide how many refugees they can take; private agencies do the casework, helping find housing and jobs.
The flip side of the Arizona story includes the Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, who courts a national following by advertising his toughness toward illegal immigrants
Mr. Arpaio conducts frequent raids on immigrant neighborhoods, stopping people for minor infractions and reviewing their immigration status. He says these raids have netted many illegal immigrants. Critics say they spread fear and harass legal residents.
Victor Acevedo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said he was stopped in January after failing to use his turn signal and was found with a small amount of marijuana. He is now awaiting deportation in one of Mr. Arpaio’s famed prison tents, dressed in the standard outfit: black stripes and pink underwear. In a tent-side interview in 107-degree heat, Mr. Acevedo, 29, said he came nine years ago for a better livelihood, found a landscaping job, married an American and had two American-born sons. He was deported in 2008 but then returned a year later to be with his family.
Refugees seem slow to sympathize. The two groups often compete for jobs or housing, and some refugees say Latino gangs have preyed on them. A refugee acknowledged that he, too, crossed a border illegally when he fled to Kenya. However in the US the situation is different: you need documents!