Gloria Estefan: Arizona Immigration Law Won’t ‘Stop Criminals’

By Nicholas Ballasy | June 11, 2010 | 4:42pm EDT
( – Grammy award-winning musician Gloria Estefan told that Arizona’s new law against illegal immigration is not “going to stop criminals.” She also said, “You can’t equate criminals with undocumented workers.”
At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., asked Estefan, “I saw you participated in a protest against the Arizona immigration law. What specifically is your issue with the law?”

“First of all, the march that I participated in was one asking for immigration reform. It has happened every year. It wasn’t specifically because of Arizona. It’s been happening for quite a few years now – immigrants getting together asking for some kind of immigration reform,” Estefan said.
“I read the law top to bottom, because I wanted to make sure – and believe me, we’re in Florida, we also get a lot of immigration in Florida,” she said. “We’ve been lucky being Cubans that we have a, you know, kind of a status, refugee status that has been given to us, but we really do need this immigration reform.”
Estefan went on to say that the problem she sees with the Arizona law is that being an undocumented worker is not the same as being a criminal.
“The problem I see with the Arizona law is not that they’re trying to protect themselves.  We understand that completely,” Estefan said. “I understand that, believe me, completely, but you can’t equate criminals with undocumented workers.
“You can’t say that in the same breath,” she said, adding “and also we live in America, if you’re an American, you’re going to have to carry your passport in Arizona if you look like me or if you speak with an accent, because they’re going to be able to target you just based on the fact that you seem Hispanic – and I’m not used to carrying my passport around in the United States of America.”
When it was noted that the Arizona law mirrors the federal law against illegal immigration, Estefan said: “It does, but it doesn’t stop them from doing it. As a matter of fact, Arizona actually, crime has gone down, and it’s one of the states with the most immigration – crime has gone down, and they actually catch more [illegals].
“I think they catch like 17 percent of illegal immigrants crossing where the national average is seven to eight percent, so I don’t see the need for that [new law],” she said. “I don’t think you’re going to stop criminals with this law. I think the criminals are going to continue to try to run drugs and to try to do the crimes.
“The ones that are going to be hurt are people that are stopped just because they have an accent or just because they look Hispanic,” Estefan added.

Estefan was at the Merage Foundation for the American Dream and the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars’ National Leadership Awards Gala held at the National Press Club, where she was honored for her contribution to entertainment in the United States as an immigrant.

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