After Mahony criticized the proposed law, Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce lashed out Wednesday against the cardinal on a nationally syndicated radio show. Pearce said Mahony had no right to speak because the Catholic leader had been -- in his words -- "protecting child molesters and predators all of his life."
"He's the last guy that ought to be speaking out," Pearce said on the program. "This guy has a history of protecting and moving predators around in order to avoid detection by the law. He has no room to talk."
Mahony's spokesman, Tod Tamberg, shot back against what he called Pearce's "mudslinging." Tamberg said the senator has "no good answer to the cardinal's challenge that this is a draconian and unjust law."
"Mudslinging and fearmongering are the essence of Sen. Pearce's remarks," Tamberg wrote in an e-mail, according to the LA Times. "He desperately wants to change the subject, throwing up a wall of inaccurate statements about Cardinal Mahony because he has no good answer to the cardinal's challenge that this is a draconian and unjust law."
The Arizona measure makes it a state crime for migrants to be in the state without documents. Opponents say the bill is racially charged. Supporters say it just helps law enforcement by giving them broader powers.
This Arizona measure is generating a lot of heat because if it succeeds, there are nationwide implications, especially here in California. Opponents of the bill gathered Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles chanting, “El pueblo, unido,” “The people are united,” and carrying signs that read “Stop Arizona’s proposed immigration law.”
“We are all concerned about illegal immigration, but the solution is not to stigmatize,” said Jorge-Mario Cabrera with the Coalition for Human Immigration Rights.
If Arizona Gov.r Jan Brewer signs the bill it would require police to check immigration status on anyone, if there’s “a reasonable suspicion.”
In the past police could only do that after making arrests for state or local crimes.
Brewer, a Republican, has not publicly expressed her opinions on the bill as she approaches a weekend deadline for signing.
Some police agencies, most notably the LAPD, agree with the belief that laws like this cause crime witnesses and victims to go deep underground. The LAPD has a policy called “Special Order 40” that prevents cops from checking the immigration status of detained suspects.