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Dupnik says immigration law 'national embarrassment'

SB 1070 is 'unwise, stupid, racist' says Pima County Sheriff

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said that Arizona's new law aimed at arresting illegal immigrants is "a national embarrassment."

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Dupnik said SB 1070, which would require police to determine the immigration status of those they "reasonably suspect" of being in the country illegally, is "racist."

"I think the law is unwise, it's stupid, and it's racist," he said. "If i were a Hispanic living in this stae, I would be humiliated and angered, and from that point of view I think it's morally wrong."

Dupnik eased from earlier statements that he would not enforce the law, but would only do so relunctantly. He said that if the county attorney told him that there was no choice, "I'll have to think about that."

Dupnik doesn't think it'll come to that. Speaking on MSNBC's "Countdown," he said that he believes there will be an injunction barring enforcement before the law takes effect (90 days after the legislative session ends, which may be Thursday). The law will eventually be found unconstitutional before it is ever enforced, said Dupnik.

"I think people are misinformed... about what immigration enforcement already exists," Dupnik said at his press conference.

"The Pima County Sheriff's Department arrests more ilegal aliens and turns them over to the Border Patrol than any other state or local law enforcement agency in this state," he said.

"The (new) state law is unneccessary. We never asked for the legislature to provide us with this so-called this 'new tool.' What they've done... is put us in a 'damned if we do, damned if we don't' situation" regarding civil suits by citizens seeking enforcement of the law, Dupnik said.

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Dupnik said he's also concerned about suits alleging racial profiling from those who may be questioned under the law.

On "Countdown," Dupnik said that SB 1070 is an unfunded mandate, saying that local law enforcement should turn illegal immigrants over to the federal system, and not bear the burden of arresting, trying and jailing them.

Dupnik's concerns are echoed by Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada and South Tucson Police Chief Richard Muñoz, who have expressed opposition to the law.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever both support the measure.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor says he's worried about the impact the law will have on investigations, with victims and witnesses who may be afraid to come forward. He said Friday that he opposed the law's enactment, but that he will work to see that it is implemented fairly in Tucson.

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Dupnik speaks at a press conference on border security, April 23.