Community Cinema

The State of Arizona


7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 3
Spurlock Museum
600 S. Gregory St., Urbana
Parking available in lot D-22 next to the museum

Come to our free screening and discussion of this tense documentary about the divisive battle over illegal immigration in Arizona. The film tracks multiple perspectives--activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ranchers and others.

Illinois Public Media’s partners for the discussion are the CU Immigration Forum, a group of immigrants, students, clergy, service providers, labor union representatives, local residents and community organizations concerned about immigrants in our community; La Colectiva, a University of Illinois student organization that addresses the challenges faced by the immigrant community in Champaign-Urbana; and Allies of Faith, a coalition of local congregations working to make the community welcoming for all, regardless skin color, language, country of origin or immigration status.

On the panel are Ricardo Diaz of the CU Immigration Forum; Samantha Busso of La Colectiva; Joanna Perez, a U of I sociology grad assistant who studies undocumented immigrant young adults in the U.S.; and Stacy Harwood, U of I assistant professor in urban and regional planning, who teaches a course on immigration and local policy.

The State of Arizona captures the explosive emotions and 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 from ground zero of the nation’s immigration debate.

Between 1996 and 2009, illegal immigration rose 300 percent in Arizona, to an estimated 460,000 people. Frustrated with federal inaction and rising border tensions, Arizona lawmakers passed 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.

The State of Arizona premieres on the PBS series Independent Lens at 9 pm Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, on WILL-TV.

Watch a preview: