However Arizona's immigration law holds up in court, nearly half of the state's residents believe that the polarizing debate has revealed underlying racial tensions and made Latinos more likely to be discriminated against. The Arizona Republic writes up the results of a poll it recently conducted:

In The Republic's telephone poll of 616 adults, conducted statewide between June 30 and July 12, nearly half of respondents—48 percent —said Latinos are more likely to be discriminated against compared with non-Latinos than they were six months ago. More than a third of respondents disagreed. The rest did not know or had no opinion.

Nearly half of Arizonans also believe the immigration debate has revealed racial problems here and that Latinos are more likely to have their legal status questioned than they were at the start of the year, the poll indicates.

The poll results confirm how the heated controversy about Arizona's controversial law has fueled fear and suspicion within the state, even before any parts of the measure had a chance to take effect. A federal judge blocked the most controversial parts of Arizona's law last week and seems likely to strike them down in her final ruling. But there are still parts of the law that went into effect on Thursday—particularly a measure that outlaws transporting or harboring illegal immigrants—that continue to worry immigration-rights advocates.

It remains to be seen whether there will actually be an uptick in discrimination against immigrants by officials or the public at large in the wake of the law's passage. But it's clear that the measure has created a climate of fear that's divided the state's residents. And it could portend the controversy that's to come in the other states that are still considering broad-sweeping anti-immigration laws like Arizona's. While the federal legislators wanted to defer an immigration overhaul for another day—in part out of fear that the debate would prove too polarizing—it's becoming increasingly clear that they can't escape the heated politics surrounding the issue.


A group of Army Reserve Best Warrior Candidates participate in the 10km road march at the 2010 Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition at Fort McCoy, Wis., on July 28, 2010. Photo via the US Army.

As we enjoy a summer weekend with friends and family, it bears remembering that, for the families and friends of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal, this weekend marks a milestone of misery: As of Saturday, it had been exactly one year since the three were arrested while hiking in the scenic border region between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. Theories differ on exactly how the arrest took place: the three may have accidentally crossed the border, or they may have been snatched while inside Iraq. (Their traveling companion, Shon Meckfessel, who stayed behind that day because he had a cold, sent us a wrenching account of the last call he got from his friends.) 

This much is for sure: They were not spies for the United States, as Iran has alleged (so far without pursuing the charge in its own courts). Bauer is a talented, muckraking journalist whose most recent story for Mother Jones looked at how the US government was using construction and other contracts to pay off corrupt ex-warlords in Iraq. (He also worked with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and New America Media.) Shourd--who became engaged to Bauer while in prison in Iran--was teaching English to Iraqi kids in Damascus, where she lived with Bauer prior to their arrest. Fattal had worked at a sustainability center in Oregon and taught overseas. All of them have been held in near-isolation (Shourd is being held by herself, while the two men share a cell), without access to the Iranian lawyer their family has hired to them or the rest of the outside world. Their only contact with their families came in May, when the mothers were allowed to visit; both Shourd and Bauer have reportedly struggled with illness while in prison.

It's no surprise that the three are being used as pawns by the Iranian government—that's a trick just about every country has used. But a year is enough, especially for three people who have committed no offense except being insufficiently paranoid in exploring a tourist region world-renowned for its beauty. Nothing good can come from their languishing behind bars, whereas once released, they would likely go back to their work for truth and human rights. We hope that day comes soon.

There are vigils and protests throughout this weekend seeking the hikers' release; you can follow the Free the Hikers campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Even President Obama has weighed in. Read his statement after the jump.