Az House passes immigration ID enforcement bill
'Reasonable suspicion' could lead to request for green card
Arizona police may soon be required to ask for immigration paperwork if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that a person is in the country illegally.
The GOP-dominated state House passed Senate Bill 1070 on Tuesday on a 35-21 party-line vote.
The new law makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and forbids "sanctuary city" policies that bar enforcement of the measure.
Immigration offenses are currently federal violations that are not enforced by local police agencies. Police may only question a person's status if they are suspected in another crime.
The bill requires anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant to produce "an alien registration document." Those without a green card would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and pay a $500 fine.
Civil rights and immigrant advocates are bitterly opposed to the measure, raising concerns of racial profiling. An American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona attorney told the Arizona Republic that the law may "unleash a torrent of lawsuits:"
"One of the most disturbing aspects is that many innocent U.S. citizens, Native Americans and lawful residents will be swept up in the application of the law because of the requirement that officers detain and investigate the immigration status of people they come across," said Annie Lai, an ACLU attorney.
"This could lead to profiling, and likely will, in a way that I think will be very damaging to the relationships that law enforcement needs," said Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson. His district includes much of Arizona's border with Mexico.
Supporters say the bill is necessary to curb illegal immigration
"Police should be allowed to pursue any and all illegalities in this country," said Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, told the Republic.
The bill has drawn national attention. The Los Angeles Times reports that it underscores Arizona's reputation as aggressive with measures to fight illegal immigration:
The bill's author, state Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican, said it simply "takes the handcuffs off of law enforcement and lets them do their job."
But police were deeply divided on the matter, with police unions backing it but the state police chiefs' association opposing the bill, contending it could erode trust with immigrants who could be potential witnesses.
Immigrant-rights groups were horrified and contended that Arizona had been transformed into a police state.
"It's beyond the pale," said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "It appears to mandate racial profiling."
The bill will be returned to the Senate for approval of changes made by the House. An OK is expected; sponsor Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, worked with House leaders to amend the bill.
The bill will then go to Gov. Jan Brewer.
What's your take?
Do you agree that police should question those they suspect of being illegal immigrants? Does the bill go to far? What about those - legal residents and citizens - who don't carry identification at all times? What is your solution to illegal immigration?