SB 1070 effects one year later

Published: Jul. 29, 2011 at 9:30 PM MST|Updated: Aug. 8, 2011 at 1:17 PM MST
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On July 29, 2010, the intersection of Broadway and Granada was wall to wall with hundreds of protesters and dozens of police.

Despite the tensions, there was no violence and few arrests.

But the images were broadcast worldwide and created a visual image of Tucson that tourism officials have spent a year trying to overcome.

Tom Tracy, the chair of the Southern Arizona Lodging Association remembers sitting in a hotel room in Japan watching the images flicker on TV.

"Then the announcers started talking about internment camps in Arizona," he says.

Against that type of image, the tourism industry has been trying to dig itself out of a hole.

"No doubt SB 1070 has cost untold millions of dollars and the loss of thousands of jobs," he says.

The economic downturn likely had an impact as well but the law's impact was felt immediately.

Arizona was always in the top five in resort bookings in America but "within 90 days we'[d dropped out of the top 25."

"We're starting to come back,' he says. "We're back in the top 25."

Part of the reason may be the pressure put on the lawmakers to stop being so vocal about immigration issues.

They pushed back against Governor Jan Brewer's assertion that headless bodies were found in the desert. They fought and won battles against more aggressive immigration legislation.

"The truth is, I think the legislature got that message," he says.

Gille Torrez, a gang task force worker at Derechos Humanos, the effects of the law still linger.

"A lot of people have moved out of Arizona" she says. "They've gone to other states or back to Mexico."

She says many parents took their children out of Tucson schools.

"The districts are seeing a drop in enrollment which costs them money," she says.

She points out some teachers may lose their jobs as a result.

She was at the intersection the day of the protest and almost got arrested.

She says a friend pulled her away from an approaching officer.

"There was no violence. We were just doing what we did every Friday,"  she says.

Every Friday a group of opponents would stand at the corner, waving signs and making a lot of noise to remind people about the law.

Many people have forgotten but the people in her community have not.

"Many are afraid to go outside or call the police when they're in trouble," she says. "They call us."

She says they expect us to help them because they don't want the police to call Border Patrol.

She says there's an underground community in Tucson which doesn't want to bring attention to themselves for fear of getting a visit from immigration.

"We're still here. We know what's happening," she says.