by Melissa Hahn
When Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law, she thrust the state into the national spotlight as a catalyst for immigration reform. As the reverberations pulse across the country, the law is best understood in the context of Arizona’s unique circumstances.
Locally, immigration has been a hot-button issue since the 1990s, when increased border security in California and Texas transformed Arizona into the nation’s illegal immigration artery. Across nearly two decades, the number of estimated illegal residents in Arizona jumped 500% as prosperity north of the border was matched by instability to the south. Census data shows that between 1990 and 2009, Hispanics rose from 16% to 30% of the population- double the national average.