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Dems: Ariz law like Jim Crow, Apartheid-Politico

By: Kasie Hunt
April 28, 2010 03:10 PM EDT

Black lawmakers are comparing Arizona’s tough immigration law to Jim Crow laws and apartheid South Africa, arguing that the federal government needs to step in with comprehensive immigration reform.

The law raises “many of the issues we had to deal with during the civil rights struggle,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “It harkens back to the era of Jim Crow or apartheid in South Africa,” she said.

“It is akin to apartheid,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), who is black. “We’re going to fight to bring comprehensive immigration legislation up for debate on the floor as soon as we can. … This is not just a Latino issue.”

Lee called Arizona’s law a “national disgrace.”

Arizona’s measure, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R) last week, requires police to people for proof of citizenship if they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe someone is an illegal immigrant.

Opponents of the law say it will lead to racial profiling. “Tell me: How does it look to be an illegal immigrant?” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The only Latino senator also had tough words for the Arizona law. “Arizona has become the ‘show me your papers’ state,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “We will not accept being second-class citizens.”

Jewish Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) had previously compared the Arizona law to Nazi Germany before World War II, when Jews were required to carry papers, and said Arizona was on its way to becoming a “police state.”

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), Congress’ only Jewish Republican, said that comparison had “no place” in the debate.