10:49 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 28, 2010

By DAVID OLSON and BEN GOAD
The Press-Enterprise

The sharply divergent reactions that Inland residents had to a federal judge’s ruling Wednesday blocking full enforcement of Arizona’s tough anti-illegal-immigration law mirrored the outrage and joy expressed nationwide.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Melissa Melendez blasted the decision. “If that’s what they’ve done, and they’ve usurped the authority of the state of Arizona, then I am completely ashamed and appalled at what they are doing,” Melendez said.

The Lake Elsinore, Hemet and Highland city councils approved resolutions supporting the law, and Menifee’s council criticized California cities that are boycotting Arizona.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-Rialto, hailed the ruling.

“This decision is an important victory over fear and hatred,” Baca said. “The truth of the matter is that Arizona SB 1070 would have only served to further divide the American people, and would not have brought us one step closer to fixing America’s broken immigration system.”

Reps. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, and Darrell Issa, R-Vista, each issued statements denouncing the decision.

Issa, whose district includes parts of southwest Riverside County, described it as “absurd.”

“The federal government has a right and a responsibility to enforce existing laws,” he said. “But when they fail to meet that responsibility, we should not stand in the way of the states that take action to respond to the very real threat of border violence, drug cartels and human smuggling.”

Menifee Mayor Wallace Edgerton said the judgment violated constitutional principles.

“Once again you have the court overruling the people, which was not intended by the founding fathers,” he said.

Hemet City Councilman Robert Youssef said Arizona should be able to take action against residents who are breaking the law. “We call them illegal immigrants for a reason,” he said.

But Hemet resident Alfredo Rodriguez, Jr., 33, said that if the law had gone into effect, it would have led to racial profiling against Latinos, no matter what their legal status.

“I think they’ll feel safer to go out on the streets, to go to work, to go shopping,” he said. “Otherwise they’ll feel like prisoners in their own home, afraid of being pulled over just because they look illegal, whatever that means.”

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