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Ariz. immigration law draws GOP criticism

Several Republicans, many of them hailing from states with large Latino populations, are echoing some of Democrats' concerns about a tough new immigration law in Arizona.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

When Arizona’s governor signed the country’s toughest immigration enforcement rules into law last week, Democrats — including President Barack Obama — immediately denounced it as a poorly-conceived bill that could threaten Americans’ civil liberties.

Now several national Republicans, many of them hailing from states with large Latino populations, are echoing some of those concerns.

"While I don't believe Arizona's policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position,” said Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio in a statement Tuesday, adding that the law could “unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens."

Another Floridian, former governor Jeb Bush, agreed with Rubio’s assessment in an interview with POLITICO, saying that the Arizona law is not “the proper approach” to solving the problem of illegal immigration.

Republican Meg Whitman, the front-runner in California's gubernatorial primary, declined to say whether the law is "racist" — as some critics allege — but told The Associated Press that Arizona's law does not offer the most effective strategy.  "I think there's just better ways to solve this problem," she said.

The bill signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer gives local police broad authority to stop and request documents from anyone they suspect is an illegal immigrant.

Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this week that the law could face a constitutional challenge.

That forecast was echoed by GOP strategist Karl Rove, who told an audience at a senior center in Florida that the bill could face "constitutional problems."

"I wish they hadn't passed it, in a way," Rove said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Using his sharpest language to date while speaking in Iowa Tuesday, Obama again said that the Arizona law could encourage racial profiling by law enforcement officials.

“You can imagine if you are an Hispanic American in Arizona — your great grandparents may have been there before Arizona was a state — but now suddenly if you don't have your papers and if you took your kid for ice cream, you're going to be harassed,” he said. “That's not the right way to go.”

Former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called Obama’s warning a “myth” during an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday.

“It's shameful, too, that the Obama administration has allowed this to become more of a racial issue by perpetuating this myth that racial profiling is a part of this law,” she said.