Independent Lens: The State of Arizona

Independent Lens: The State of Arizona

Monday, January 27 at 10:00 p.m.

The complex realities behind Arizona’s headline-grabbing struggle with illegal immigration.

Following Arizona’s controversial Senate Bill 1070, dubbed the “show me your papers” law, the film tells the stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue — activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ranchers and others — and depicts a state and its people testing the edges of our democratic values.

Between 1996 and 2009, illegal immigration rose 300% in Arizona, to an estimated 460,000 people. Frustrated with federal inaction and rising border tensions, Arizona lawmakers ignited a national maelstrom by instituting the SB 1070 law that requires police officers to ask for papers from people they reasonably suspect to be undocumented in the course of an otherwise lawful stop.

Designed to encourage self-deportation, the law’s stated purpose is to “deter the unlawful entry and presence of illegal aliens and economic activity by illegal aliens in the United States.” Supporters call it a common sense law enforcement tool; opponents see it as a dangerous infringement of civil rights that would inevitably lead to harassment and racial profiling. The film follows the journey of the law all the way to the Supreme Court through the voices of those who wrote and support it and of the many who dread its power.