Opponents charged that Arizona was relegating Latinos to second-class status. The law was racist and xenophobic. Allusions to police states, the segregated South and even Nazi Germany abounded.
It’s become clear, however, that most Americans see this principally as a law-enforcement issue. A steady stream of national polls consistently show the same thing: A solid majority of Americans (usually around 60 percent) believe that local law enforcement should be doing the kind of things the Arizona law provides. Moreover, a solid majority of Americans also believe that Arizona was right to take action on its own, rather than wait for the federal government.
That changes the game. It’s easy for critics to depict a small state as a bunch of racist rubes. Harder to do that for the entire country.