Purporting to correct misconceptions, Luntz misrepresents AZ immigration law

On Fox & Friends, Frank Luntz falsely suggested that under Arizona's new immigration law, police can only ask about the immigration status of someone “if they believe that they're in the process of committing a crime.” In fact, the law directs police to check the immigration status of those stopped for non-crimes including violations of city and county ordinances and civil traffic violations if the officer suspects those individuals are undocumented.

Luntz falsely suggests Arizona police can only question immigration status of those “in the process of committing a crime”

From the May 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

DAVE BRIGGS (guest co-host): And you hear that everywhere, whether it's Pennsylvania -- who is about to enact legislation. But here's my question, Frank. Whether whites or Hispanics, are those people in your focus group reacting to the preconceived notions they already had or to you actually reading them the legislation, the actual words in the bill? Or do they come in with those thoughts?

LUNTZ: In Arizona, they come -- that's a great question, because it's different in Arizona versus the rest of America. In Arizona, they know exactly what's in the legislation. They argued over the details in the legislation. The rest of America doesn't realize that it isn't profiling. In fact, the only way that a policeman can stop someone is if they believe that they're in the process of committing a crime. If they think -- if the cops think that the individual's here in America legally, they're not allowed to do anything.

In fact, law directs police to check immigration status during non-crime contacts

AZ law directs police to question immigration status of those they “stop.” On April 30, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed HB 2162, which made changes to the immigration law (SB 1070) that she signed on April 23. The Arizona Republic reported that these changes include the clarification “that law-enforcement officers shall inquire about the immigration status only of those they 'stop, detain or arrest.' ” Police officers “stop” individuals for numerous reasons other than suspected crimes, including non-criminal speeding, expired registration, running a stop sign, and other civil traffic violations.

AZ law directs police to question immigration status of those involved in a “municipal or county code violation.” The Arizona government also modified the original law to specify “that a law-enforcement officer would be required to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a municipal or county code violation.” According to The Arizona Republic, “City ordinance violations vary by municipality but could include things like loud parties, barking dogs, cars on blocks in the yard or too many renters.” On April 30, The Wonk Room blog posted an email reportedly written by Kris Kobach, a law professor and Republican candidate for Kansas secretary of state who helped draft the bill, to Arizona Republican State Sen. Russell Pearce on April 28, which stated:

When we drop out “lawful contact” and replace it with “a stop, detention, or rest, in the enforcement a violation of any title or section of the Arizona code” we need to add “or any county or municipal ordinance.” This will allow police to use violations of property codes (ie, cars on blocks in the yard) or rental codes (too many occupants of a rental accommodation) to initiate queries as well.

As Media Matters for America noted, the law originally required law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of those they suspect of being undocumented during “any lawful contact,” which included “victims, witnesses or just people who are lawfully interacting with the police officer,” according to a research analyst for the Arizona House Majority.

Police could reportedly already question immigration status of those suspected of “another crime.” The Christian Science Monitor reported on April 15, “Currently, officers can inquire about a person's immigration status only if that person is a suspect in another crime.” CNN similarly reported on April 20:

The Arizona state Senate on Monday passed an extensive immigration bill that is widely considered to be some of the toughest immigration legislation in the nation, requiring police officers to determine whether a person is in the United States legally.

Currently, officers can only take that route if a person is suspected in another crime.