There are no official figures but anecdotal evidence is that thousands of illegal immigrants have fled the US state of Arizona ahead of a controversial new immigration law coming into effect there.
On Wednesday, a judge issued a temporary injunction blocking some elements of that law which meant continued uncertainty for illegal immigrants living in Arizona.
Among those who packed their belongings to leave are the Aranda family originally from Mexico City.
They have lived in Phoenix for eight years, but are too scared to stay, as Italia Aranda, a 20 year old student, explained: “Every time I go to school I’m worried that I’ll be pulled over by the police and not make it back home. I’m just going to school to study and do what I have to do and still, that’s a risk.”
The law – known as SB 1070 – is aimed at the estimated more than 400,000 unauthorised migrants living in Arizona, that’s over 10 percent of the state’s population.
Among the sections of the law that the judge blocked was the provision making it a crime to fail to apply for or carry immigration registration papers.
Also out was the requirement that police check the immigration status of someone they had stopped, detained or arrested.
Other parts of the law stand, including it being an offence to knowingly transport or harbour illegal immigrants or to hire them as day labourers.
Opponents, like long time Phoenix resident Joseph Gabor, called SB 1070 unconstitutional and racist.
He said: “This new law is a racist law, unfortunately. I was born here, I am a US citizen, I served in the armed forces of this country and now I can be pulled over by the police just because I’m in my car and I’m Hispanic.”
With congressional elections due in November, the law also has political dimensions.
It was enacted by Republicans. Democrat President Barack Obama is opposed to it, saying immigration policy needs reforming, but at a national level.
The law’s backers insist it is needed because Arizona borders Mexico and is a major corridor used by smugglers of drugs and people into the United States.
The politicians behind SB 1070 said it is intended to curb crime and cut the cost to the state of illegals.