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  • Follow the stories of Arizonans on all sides of the emotional and divisive issue of immigration.

    Follow the stories of Arizonans on all sides of the emotional and divisive issue of immigration.

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  • Sheriff Joe rallies a crowd.

    Sheriff Joe rallies a crowd.

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  • Salvador Reza tracks sheriffs pulling over Latino drivers.

    Salvador Reza tracks sheriffs pulling over Latino drivers.

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  • Sheriff Joe debates journalist during fast food bust.

    Sheriff Joe debates journalist during fast food bust.

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  • Rudy Peña reflects on a surprising divide within the Latino community.

    Rudy Peña reflects on a surprising divide within the Latino community.

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  • Still from The State of Arizona

    Still from The State of Arizona

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  • Supporters of tough Arizona immigration laws outside the state capitol.

    Supporters of tough Arizona immigration laws outside the state capitol.

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  • Renee Taylor demonstrates in support of SB 1070 outside the federal court house.

    Renee Taylor demonstrates in support of SB 1070 outside the federal court house.

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  • Carlos Garcia arrested as he protests the implementation of SB 1070.

    Carlos Garcia arrested as he protests the implementation of SB 1070.

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  • Activists demonstrate outside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Activists demonstrate outside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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  • Duncan Blair on his cattle ranch that runs along the U.S.-Mexican border.

    Duncan Blair on his cattle ranch that runs along the U.S.-Mexican border.

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  • Kathryn Kobor with her picket signs.

    Kathryn Kobor with her picket signs.

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The Film

This vérité documentary captures the explosive emotions and complex realities behind Arizona’s headline-grabbing struggle with illegal immigration. Tracking the year after Arizona passes SB1070, its controversial “papers please” law, the film tells the stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue and depicts a state and its people testing the edges of our democratic values.

Frustrated with federal inaction and border issues, Arizona ignites a national maelstrom. Supporters call it a common sense law-enforcement tool; opponents see it as inevitably leading to racial profiling. SB1070’s stated intent is to make life so miserable for people that they will self-deport, challenging the civic sensibilities of many.

The film interweaves the volatile themes of immigration and race portrayed through a mosaic of characters and their responses to SB1070. We see Arizonans roiled by the pending law. Neighborhoods empty, businesses shutter, and immigrants flee the state. Those who choose to stay organize boycotts, mass demonstrations, daring acts of civil disobedience, and prepare families for the possibility of separation by sudden deportation. In contrast, the film also travels deep into the spirit of the newly empowered Tea Party movement for whom illegal immigration is a flashpoint.

Arizona’s enforcement-led policy, which grew out of its unique position as the frontline border state, is reshaping the national conversation around immigration reform. With dozens of states considering a similar approach, The State of Arizona holds a mirror and asks Americans who they are, and who they want to be.

The Filmmakers

  1. Carlos SandovalProducer/Director
  2. Catherine TambiniProducer/Director