Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed Senate Bill 1070 into law on April 23, 2010. The law, formally known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, is a hard-line bill designed to identify, charge, and potentially deport illegal immigrants currently residing in Arizona. The legislation mandates that immigrants carry their papers at all times, and that police verify the legal status of individuals during the course of traffic stops or other law-enforcement actions, and when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the individuals under question are illegal aliens. The legislation makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally, and ratchets-up punishments against those that harbor or transport illegal immigrants and against employers that hire them. Citizens can hold state and local governments and agencies accountable by suing any of these bodies that fail to carry out immigration-related enforcement. In the broadest sense, Arizona has picked a side in the immigration debate. It favors finding, punishing, and potentially deporting illegal immigrants, instead of seeking ways to integrate them into American society through, for example, a “path to citizenship.” The arguments in this larger debate, and surrounding the specifics of Arizona’s law are presented below.
“we already have plenty of federal immigration laws on the books, and the typical illegal alien is guilty of breaking many of them. What we need is for the executive branch to enforce the laws that we already have.”
“Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.”
“I agree that there’s something ugly about the police asking citizens for their ‘papers.’ (There’s nothing particularly ugly about asking illegal immigrants for their papers, though.) There’s also something ugly about American citizens being physically searched at airports, or about IRS agents prying into nearly all of your personal-financial transactions or, thanks to the passage of ObamaCare, serving as health insurance enforcers. In other words, many government functions are unappealing. That’s not in itself an argument against them. The Patriot Act was ugly – and necessary.”
“The law, badly needed to fight the vicious foreign-born crime epidemic that illegal immigration nurtures in Arizona, bears little resemblance to the fear-mongering claims of the law’s opponents.”
“Arizona’s draconian new immigration law is an abomination — racist, arbitrary, oppressive, mean-spirited, unjust. About the only hopeful thing that can be said is that the legislation, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed Friday, goes so outrageously far that it may well be unconstitutional.”
“This law creates a suspect class, based in part on ethnicity, considered guilty until they prove themselves innocent. It makes it harder for illegal immigrants to live without scrutiny — but it also makes it harder for some American citizens to live without suspicion and humiliation. Americans are not accustomed to the command ‘Your papers, please,’ however politely delivered.”
“many of Arizona’s roughly 2 million Latinos are wondering about how this law will affect their personal freedom. They are concerned for their children’s safety. They are searching for identification documents for older relatives. Many Latinos, no doubt, will be afraid to venture out without ‘papers,’ even if they are legal residents or U.S. citizens. This type of fear has no place in our society.”
Singer Linda Ronstadt. “My family, of both German and Mexican heritage, has a long history in Arizona. It has been our diverse and shared history in this state that unites us and makes us stronger. What Governor Brewer signed into law last week is a piece of legislation that threatens the very heart of this great state.”
“[Argument:] ‘Reasonable suspicion’ is a meaningless term that will permit police misconduct. [Counter-argument:] Over the past four decades, federal courts have issued hundreds of opinions defining those two words. The Arizona law didn’t invent the concept: Precedents list the factors that can contribute to reasonable suspicion; when several are combined, the ‘totality of circumstances’ that results may create reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed. […] For example, the Arizona law is most likely to come into play after a traffic stop. A police officer pulls a minivan over for speeding. A dozen passengers are crammed in. None has identification. The highway is a known alien-smuggling corridor. The driver is acting evasively. Those factors combine to create reasonable suspicion that the occupants are not in the country legally.”
“The amended law limits such inquiries to instances when cops make a lawful stop, detention or arrest in the course of enforcing some other law or local ordinance. But including local ordinances as grounds for an immigration inquiry opens all kinds of tantalizing harassment possibilities for officials like Joe Arpaio–the notorious but popular Arizona sheriff who has made it his personal mission to root out undocumented aliens from the state by launching crime sweeps in Latino communities on the flimsiest of pretexts. […] Under the new law, Arpaio could troll Hispanic neighborhoods demanding the papers of anyone breaking, say, a local pooper-scooper law while walking their dogs.”
“As far as the so-called “show me your papers law,” federal law has long dictated that every alien, 18 years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession proof of alien registration. Failure to comply can result in a misdemeanor conviction, $100 fine and/or 30 days imprisonment for each violation.”
“The downside is that some people — citizens, visitors, immigrants and foreign workers — legally in the state may be inconvenienced if asked to identify themselves or show their immigration documents. I’ve been asked to show my “papers” when traveling in foreign countries. Big deal.”
Carrying papers is no more inconvenient than carrying a drivers license or any other form of ID. It is a tradeoff for a person coming to live in the country rather than in Mexico.
“If this law were implemented, citizens would effectively have to carry ‘their papers’ at all times to avoid arrest. It is a low point in modern America when a state law requires police to demand documents from people on the street.”
“The law will allow police to engage in racial profiling. Actually, Section 2 provides that a law enforcement official “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” in making any stops or determining immigration status. In addition, all normal Fourth Amendment protections against profiling will continue to apply. In fact, the Arizona law actually reduces the likelihood of race-based harassment by compelling police officers to contact the federal government as soon as is practicable when they suspect a person is an illegal alien, as opposed to letting them make arrests on their own assessment.”
“When she signed this law, Gov. Jan Brewer stated that she would not tolerate racial profiling. Yet at a news conference, she was unable to answer the question ‘What does an illegal immigrant look like?’ If she doesn’t know, how are police to know? Because Arizona’s law offers no guidance as to what constitutes a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that someone is undocumented, police will likely resort to profiling of Latinos on an unprecedented level. Isn’t Goldberg outraged by these apparent violations of the 4th Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure? Or of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause? Guess not.”
“Arizona is a state of about 6.6 million people, with about 15 percent foreign-born, according to the U.S. census. Under the new law, those who can’t immediately prove they’re working in the United States legally may find themselves detained by police as they go about daily life.”
According to the U.S. Census, approximately 30% of the population in Arizona are of Hispanic or Latino origin. In truth a person of any descent could be an illegal immigrant. Can an officer of the law really apply this law without being influenced by a persons race? Sharing a border with Mexico only increases the likelihood that an officer will be unjustly prejudiced in suspecting a hispanic is an illegal immigrant.
“It’s a scary piece of legislation that will invite racial profiling. What does an “illegal immigrant” look like? In Arizona’s case, it will be someone with brown skin. […] The state that resisted a Martin Luther King holiday seems to relish discouraging people with darker shades of skin. […] Arizona voters approved a King holiday in 1992, but only after a tourist boycott and loss of the 1993 Super Bowl, which was supposed to have been played in Tempe. This year’s action might cost the state baseball’s 2011 All-Star game.”
“the provision allowing people to sue officials for not enforcing the law is red meat intended to hound police agencies to boost their arrest numbers.”
“The law, which GOP Gov. Jan Brewer signed April 23, uses state police authority to step up pressure on illegal aliens. This should help force many to leave the state—and the country—on their own or else face time behind bars. […] This measure promotes attrition through enforcement, the most reasonable, rational strategy on the enforcement side of the immigration equation.”
“In sum, the Arizona law hardly creates a police state. It takes a measured, reasonable step to give Arizona police officers another tool when they come into contact with illegal aliens during their normal law enforcement duties.”
“if states unilaterally start arresting undocumented aliens and dispatching them to the federal government for deportation, they will force the federal government to expend law enforcement resources on immigration when it might have other, more pressing, concerns such as, say, terrorism.”
“The government of Arizona, it turns out, has been ambushed by its own legislature. If this vague law is applied vigorously, the state will be regularly sued by citizens who are wrongfully stopped. But if the law is not applied vigorously enough, it contains a provision allowing citizens to sue any agency or official who ‘limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.’ Either way, lawyers rejoice.”
“such proactive enforcement has a continuing deterrent effect, as violators realize they cannot indefinitely avoid law enforcement contact.”
the behavior they are supposed to inhibit actually increases. Attempts to ban alcohol consumption, teen smoking, advertising, pornography, and fast driving are among the many instances of prohibitions that have backfired.
Illegal immigrants are often, although not always, involved in other crimes, particularly drug-trafficking. Cracking down on illegal immigrants will, therefore, have a positive effect in reducing crime rates in Arizona.
In general, the absence of the enforcement of immigration laws in Arizona creates a sense of anarchy in the state, and a certain feeling among criminals that they can commit crimes without concern for punishment.
“One of the concrete problems with the law treating undocumented immigrants as criminals is that it gives those without papers a powerful incentive to stay as far away from police as possible. This will only make it more difficult for local police to investigate crimes and track down fugitive offenders, because no potential witness who is undocumented will come forward.”
“This obviously puts police in an impossible situation because it requires them to pursue two goals simultaneously: to enforce the immigration laws; and to enforce the criminal laws, keep the peace, provide assistance, and all the other ordinary tasks of police officers. Which goal should they pursue? It will frequently not be possible to do both, because the officer will be required to arrest perpetrator and victim both, and the punishment experienced by the victim of a violent crime will frequently be more severe and life-disrupting – deportation – than that experienced by the perpetrator – a night in jail, perhaps.”