Border & immigration: SB1070
Brewer signs controversial Az immigration measure
Elias: Law will 'create a new Jim Crow'
Gov. Jan Brewer did "what's best for Arizona" and signed SB1070 Friday, strengthening the state's immigration laws.
Saying Arizonans are "frustrated and disappointed" over federal government inaction on border issues, Brewer enacted a law that would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally and would require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce "an alien registration document," such as a green card , passport, or other proof of citizenship.
Brewer said the state could no longer tolerate "the crisis the federal government has refused to fix.'' The law is set to take effect in 90 days.
She denied accusations from opponents that the law would lead to abuse. "We will not tolerate racial profiling," she said.
Some elected officials, including Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, blasted her decision.
At a Tucson demonstration against the bill in front of the Arizona state office building, 400 West Congress Street, Elias said the law would "create a new Jim Crow" in Arizona. "Racial profiling is why this bill was passed," he said.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords explained her opposition to the bill at a Friday press conference on cross-border money laundering.
"If you're any other color but white, you're likely to be questioned.," Giffords said of the new law. "It's not right to have law enforcement ask you at the drop of a hat whether you're here legally."
Giffords expressed concerns about burdening local law enforcement with immigration enforcement.
"I'm worried about local law enforcement agents who don't have the training required to do immigration work."
One of Gifford's potential opponents, GOP candidate Jonathan Paton, put out a press release supporting Brewer and criticizing the CD8 Democrat.
"We need to secure the border, and we need to secure it now," Paton said. "I promise to stand with the people of Southern Arizona - not Raul Grijalva, Barack Obama and the Washington establishment, as (Giffords) has done."
At a Friday press conference after the signing, Brewer said she prayed for guidance in her decision, saying her ultimate goal is to protect Arizonans.
"We can not sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels," Brewer said.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat, sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to limit federal cooperation with Arizona officials in the bill's enforcement.
"SB 1070 would exacerbate the problem of racial profiling . . . and would continue to compromise the civil rights of citizens, legal residents, tourists and foreign visitors," Grijalva wrote.
“This law will put every policeman in the state on notice that their main duty from now on is to question Hispanics about their citizenship,” Grijalva said in a press release. “This is a discriminatory policy that cannot be enforced without committing grave breaches of due process and equal protection. The law will not withstand legal scrutiny, and I call on the president immediately to reject it in the strongest possible terms.”
Democratic Senate candidate Rodney Glassman assailed the bill in a press release:
S.B.1070 is the type of legislation that undermines the trust between law enforcement and neighborhoods that so many have worked so long to achieve. It does nothing to secure the border or stop the violence in our border region. It does nothing to address the reasons so many cross our borders without going through legal channels. This bill is nothing more than an unfunded mandate that shifts the financial burden onto cities and towns already grappling with budget cuts.
'1070's got to go'
About 500 demonstrators, mostly students, protested the bill outside the state office building in downtown Tucson in the early afternoon, chanting "Hey, hey, ho, ho. 1070's got to go."
Holding signs saying "No Human Is Illegal" and "Veto 1070," they cheered as passing drivers honked in encouragement.
Police blocked lanes on Congress, and closed North Granada Avenue. "The police are doing a great job (at crowd control)," said Elias. "And these are great kids, so there shouldn't be any problems."
Police ensured that students stayed on the sidewalk, joking with them that the kids would lose their voices from chanting so loudly.
Elias, who said he met with Tucson Police Department and Tucson Unified School District officials Thursday night to ensure Friday's marchers would be safe, said the law could make crime investigations tougher.
"This will foster hatred and make people scared to deal with law enforcement. Undocumented witnesses might not come forward to help police."
"I'm a seventh-generation Arizonan. But this law will make me take a whole different tack when dealing with law enforcement. Latinos will be under a different level of scrutiny. Do I have to carry my driver's license every time I walk down the street?" Elias asked.
'The law doesn't make it right'
Angel Sanchez, 26, a community organizer, gave a brief speech to the crowd of demonstrators.
"You have inspired a community to stand up for what is right," he said through a bullhorn, as the horns of passing cars nearly drowned out his words.
"They are wrong when they look at us as say we are criminals," Sanchez said.
In an interview after his speech, Sanchez criticized the new law. "Our law enforcement officers who are here to serve and protect us, they're being handcuffed by this."
"They don't want this, they want to find real criminals," he said. "Just because this (bill) is the law doesn't make it right."
Supporters of the new law were scant at the demonstration. Three men stood across Congress Street for about an hour, holding signs favoring the measure.
The students moved their demonstration to Armory Park around 2 p.m, , where they were joined by other high school students and hundreds of adult demonstrators.
The crowd, grown to about 1500, moved back to the Arizona state building around 4 p.m. They chanted, waved signs and encouraged drivers to honk through the rush hour.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said at an afternoon news conference that he was confident that his officers would "protect civil rights."
"Based on the longstanding trust we have with the community, we've proven ourselves to be reliable and trustworthy," he said.
Villaseñor said that although he had opposed the bill, he was now bound to enforce it. "My opposition to this bill is now a moot point," he said. The bill will be enforced "with due regard and respect for people's rights."
Villaseñor said he had concerns about the number of people that Tucson police would have to process to federal authorites under the law, and the additional cost that TPD would bear by enforcing the measure.
"We don't know what that number will be," he said.
"It's imperative we define what 'reasonable suspicion' will be with regard to this law to avoid racial profiling," Villaseñor said.
The chief also raised concerns about the law's provision for citizen suits against agencies to ensure enforcement of the measure. "It does have the tendency to allow for frivolous lawsuits," he said.
Villaseñor said that Arizona police agencies will work together to develop standards for enforcing the measure during the next 3 months, before the law is enforced.
'Do what's right'
At a speech Thursday night before a crowd of Arizona Latino leaders, Brewer said she would do "what's right for Arizona," according to the Arizona Republic.
"I've heard your concerns about immigration reform, I understand what the issues are and how important they are to all of us. Well, I am my mother's daughter and I am up to the challenge."
Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, also at the dinner, pointedly urged the governor not to let the bill become law. He also asked her not to emulate former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham or former Alabama Gov. George Wallace, both of whom were criticized for political and racial insensitivity, reports the Arizona Republic.
"I have to believe you have courage, and I have to believe in your heart you don't want to be the governor whose strings are being pulled by the likes of Russell Pearce and Joe Arpaio," the mayor said.
President Obama criticized the bill this morning while speaking at the Active Duty Naturalization Ceremony at the White House Rose Garden.
Our failure to act responsible at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes for example the recent efforts in Arizona which threaten basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe. In fact, I’ve instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation.
But if we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts to open up across the country.