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'Culture of fear' prompts Arizona immigrants to seek legal advice

Undocumented residents in Arizona and other states, worried about the crackdown on illegal immigration, are setting up legal protections in case they are deported.

"There's a culture of fear out there," said Jason Mills, a Fort Worth immigrationon attorney.

Attorneys in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas tell USA Today that illegal immigrants, fearing arrest and deportation, are hiring them for legal advice to protect their families.

Cecilia Menjívar, an Arizona State University sociology professor, says immigrant families started preparing informal plans in 2006, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were conducting raids at work sites.

Children being stranded at school when parents were arrested at work, and wives unable to access a deported husband’s bank account, were two examples of why the legal documents were necessary.

Mills said debate over Arizona's SB1070, now on hold over legal grounds, has "scared" people into this course of action.

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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