The strict immigration law passed over the border in Arizona has energized both sides of the immigration debate in California. Community workers tell Reuters that young Latinos, worried that a similar law could hit the Golden State, have gone from being apathetic about politics to being ready to take to the streets to demand immigration reform. Conservatives, meanwhile, are eyeing potential electoral gains this year and hoping for an Arizona-style immigration clampdown in the state, home to a quarter of America's 10.8 million illegal immigrants.
The Arizona law is "a fantastic starting point, " Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter told a rally after it was signed. "Would I support the deportation of natural-born US citizens who are the kids of illegal aliens? I would have to, yes," he added. The immigration debate hasn't played much of a role in the state's election races so far, but analysts predict that either Democrats or Republicans will turn it into a central issue, gambling that firing up their base will be worth the cost of alienating independent voters.