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New Arizona Law Might Sweep Up Undocumented Immigrants Applying for a Legal Child's Benefits

Religious and community leaders are trying to quell panic in Arizona’s immigrant community, fighting fear with information.

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“I don’t believe that rhetoric. That’s what they always said,” says Valerie Roller, a member of Riders U.S.A., a local organization that opposes the legalization of undocumented immigrants. “But the emergency rooms empty for a while and they’re filled again,” said Roller, who does not believe the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants should be entitled to citizenship..

Supporters of the bill argue it follows the will of Arizona voters who in 2004 approved Proposition 200, aimed at denying public benefits to undocumented immigrants. The impact of that initiative was limited to five programs by an Attorney General’s decision..

“Nothing changed, this is what the voters wanted,” Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro said. “We’re going through difficult economic moments in Arizona. We’re having to cut from so many different areas. It’s only correct to make sure that people that apply and receive benefits are qualified to do so,” he said..

Montenegro says he has looked into concerns that the new law may affect the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens..

“It is not aimed to affect the parent if they are applying for the child, unless the parent is aiming to receive the benefit,” said the representative who voted in favor of the law.

 
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