Conservative media have claimed that parts of Arizona's new immigration law are similar to federal law and that, therefore, the law should not be controversial. In fact, the immigration enforcement powers given to local law enforcement under the legislation represent a dramatic departure from current policies and would, according to many experts, lead to racial profiling, strained police resources, and distrust of law enforcement within the immigrant community.
Arizona's SB 1070 requires police to question and detain those suspected of being undocumented
AP: “Current law in Arizona and most states doesn't require police to ask about the immigration status of those they encounter.” The Associated Press reported on April 25: “Current law in Arizona and most states doesn't require police to ask about the immigration status of those they encounter, and many police departments prohibit officers from inquiring out of fear immigrants won't cooperate in other investigations.” As The Arizona Republic noted, “Currently, immigration offenses are violations of federal law, something most local law-enforcement agencies cannot enforce.”
New law requires police to “determine the immigration status” of individuals whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to be in the country illegally. SB 1070, which Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law on April 24, requires law enforcement officials to, “when practicable, to determine the immigration status” of individuals whom they have “reasonable suspicion” of being “an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” The law states that suspicion cannot be “solely” based on “race, color or national origin.” As the Los Angeles Times reported [accessed via Nexis], “Anyone who falls under suspicion and cannot provide an Arizona driver's license, tribal identification, passport or green card could be subject to arrest and detention."
Among other things, SB 1070 also allows individuals to sue an Arizona official or agency “that adopts or implements a policy or practice that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”
Many argue that Latino citizens and legal immigrants will bear burden of profiling, detention
U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner: SB 1070 targets people “simply because of their resemblance to other individuals who may be in the country illegally.” Michael Yaki, attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, wrote on April 26:
What this law does, without question, is target individuals for special treatment by law enforcement simply because of their resemblance to other individuals who may be in the country illegally. It attempts to skirt the federal pre-emption argument by simplying putting more people into the potential federal holding pen and letting ICE sort it all out. But the law, by its very wording, cannot distinguish between an American, a green card holder, and an undocumented person without first subjecting that person to a wholly different level and standard of identification and presumption of guilt.
Mesa police chief: SB 1070 would require “people to prove their innocence” before being charged with a crime. The Arizona Republic reported that Mesa police chief Frank Milstead said the legislation “would essentially require 'people to prove their innocence' before even being charged with a crime.” He also said he was concerned over the potential costs to enforce the law.
James Doty: New law is “vulnerable to the argument that it essentially criminalizes walking while Hispanic.” Lawyer James Doty wrote on April 26 that “no one has come up” with an answer to the question, “What do illegal immigrants look like?” that doesn't invoke ethnicity. Doty further wrote: “The new law, on its face, doesn't make racial distinctions, but its supporters haven't articulated any other grounds for suspecting that someone is an unlawful resident. It is, therefore, vulnerable to the argument that it essentially criminalizes walking while Hispanic,” and that “the law seems to require that officers demand documentation from suspected aliens based on mere hunches -- a clear violation of the Constitution.”
ACLU of Arizona: “To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their 'papers' at all times.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona stated on April 23 that SB 1070 “creates new immigration crimes and penalties inconsistent with those in federal law, asserts sweeping authority to detain and transport persons suspected of violating civil immigration laws and prohibits speech and other expressive activity by persons seeking work.” ACLU of Arizona further stated that the law “requires police agencies across Arizona to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have 'reasonable suspicion' to believe is in the country unlawfully. To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their 'papers' at all times.”
AILA executive director: SB 1070 effectively “compels law enforcement to conduct racial profiling of all people in the state, including U.S. citizens.” In an April 15 statement, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said:
The Arizona bill would require state law enforcement agents to question individuals about their immigration status if the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented. An individual who cannot provide proof of legal status would be subject to arrest. According to [AILA executive director Crystal] Williams, “In effect, the act compels law enforcement to conduct racial profiling of all people in the state, including U.S. citizens. People will be questioned and detained for looking foreign.”
University of Arizona law professor: “If you look Mexican or Hispanic or Asian or Black, then you should carry ID.” University of Arizona law professor Gabriel Chin responded to the question, “Do I need to have my ID card on me at all times in case an officer suspects I'm in the country illegally?” by stating:
If the person was born in Mexico and doesn't have satisfactory identification, I would think there is probable cause to arrest that person for violation of this section: There is evidence they are not a U.S. citizen (foreign birth), they do not have any evidence they are authorized to live in the United States. ... I would say the answer is: If you look Mexican or Hispanic or Asian or Black, then you should carry ID because there's already some evidence that you could fall into this category.
If police see someone speaking Spanish, who appears to be Mexican, is in a Mexican neighborhood, they know from other situations this is a neighborhood where a high number of people are undocumented, that certainly looks like a basis to inquire.
Many in law enforcement community argue that new law distorts police priorities
AZ Republic: Police chiefs said officers “will have to make immigration enforcement their priority over every other type of crime.” The Arizona Republic reported on April 22 that SB 1070 “requires local law-enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law to the fullest extent permitted by federal law” and “would allow Arizonans to sue agencies if they don't believe an agency is complying with the law.” The article further reported:
Police chiefs who oppose the bill have said these requirements will mean officers will have to make immigration enforcement their first priority over every other type of crime.
They may have to wait around for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to verify a suspect's immigration status and possibly transport a suspect to jail to be held until that status can be determined.
The chiefs also say the bill offers no additional funding to train officers in how to judge reasonable suspicion or otherwise enforce federal laws.
“This will further impact police departments already lacking the resources to do their basic job,” said former Mesa Police Chief George Gascón, who now leads the San Francisco Police Department.
Arizona Police Chiefs: SB 1070 interferes with police work. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police stated that SB 1070 “will negatively affect the ability of law enforcement agencies across the state to fulfill their many responsibilities in a timely manner.”
Yuma County Sheriff: “We don't have enough people to be doing what we're supposed to be doing anyway.” Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden opposed the passage of SB 1070, citing the cost of detaining individuals and a "'12 percent reduction in force availability' for each incident, where a deputy would be tied up investigating someone's immigration status," according to a Phoenix New Times post. The post further reported that Ogden stated, "[I]f you start spending less time on property crimes and personal crimes, you don't want to do that":
“We're like everybody else,” explained Ogden, who's in his fourth term as Yuma County Sheriff. “We don't have enough people to be doing what we're supposed to be doing anyway. But you have to prioritize. And if you start spending less time on property crimes and personal crimes, you don't want to do that.”
Ogden was also concerned with another provision of the Pearce legislation that would grant a private right of action for a citizen to sue a law enforcement agency if that person believes that the agency is not pursuing immigration violations to “the full extent permitted by federal law.”
Colorado Springs chief: Bill could delay officers' response to “shots-fired call.” The Arizona Republic reported that Colorado Springs Chief Richard Myers “said Arizona residents may not like what that enforcement looks like,” and quoted him saying, “If I have a shots-fired call or the potential to stop someone who might be checked for documented status, I'm going to do that before I respond to shots fired because I won't get sued if don't respond to shots fired.”
Sacramento police chief: “No other law in the country allows citizens to sue a government agency for not arresting enough people.” The San Francisco Chronicle reported on April 22 that former Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas said the bill “essentially legislates racial profiling, putting police in the middle of the train tracks to face an onslaught of civil-rights violations lawsuits.” Venegas further stated, “No other law in the country allows citizens to sue a government agency for not arresting enough people.”
Police union rep: SB 1070 “could eat up a lot of manpower and cost a lot of money.” The (Phoenix) East Valley Tribune reported that "[p]olice unions representing the rank-and-file officers, although not opposed to the bill, believe it could create manpower challenges during a time of budget reductions and are also concerned about potential lawsuits the law could bring, according to Bryan Soller, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Mesa Lodge's No. 9, which represents 600 officers." The article further quoted Soller as saying, “If we're getting hammered with calls, is a misdemeanor (trespassing by an illegal immigrant) more important than a stabbing or shooting? No. The problem with this law is that it's an unfunded mandate and could eat up a lot of manpower and cost a lot of money.”
AILA: "[E]fforts to deputize local law enforcement have failed." In an April 15 statement, the American Immigration Lawyers Association said:
“The bill will overwhelm local enforcement agencies by requiring them to engage in the highly technical work of enforcing immigration law that is better left to the federal government. Nationally efforts to deputize local law enforcement have failed for precisely that reason,” said AILA Executive Director Crystal Williams referring to what is known as the 287(g) Program. Under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, state and local law enforcement agencies, acting under federal supervision, may assume federal immigration enforcement powers. Earlier this month a report by the DHS Office of the Inspector General found widespread lack of adequate training, guidance, monitoring or oversight. AILA is urging termination of the entire program.
SB 1070 could undermine trust of police, community policing
Major Cities Chiefs Association: AZ law could harm “trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities.” USA Today reported that San Jose Police Chief Robert Davis, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, “said the group stands by its 2006 policy that 'immigration enforcement by local police would likely negatively effect and undermine the level of trust and cooperation between local police and immigrant communities.'”
Former Mesa police chief: “People will be more hesitant to report crimes.” The Arizona Republic reported that former Mesa Police Chief George Gascon “said the bill also will have 'catastrophic impacts on community policing.'” The report further quoted Gascon as stating, “People will be more hesitant to report crimes, and that will create some very, very tough circumstances for local police in dealing with crime issues in areas heavily visited by people here from other countries.”
WSJ: People are less likely to report crimes if they see “the local police as deportation agents.” In an April 27 editorial, The Wall Street Journal stated that the Arizona law “is an extraordinary state criminalization of a heretofore federal authority.” The editorial further stated, “Local enforcement agencies don't want responsibility for enforcing national immigration laws because they say it makes them less effective at their day jobs. When people in immigrant communities see the local police as deportation agents, they become less likely to report crimes and help in investigations. Conditions worsen.”
American Jewish Committee: SB 1070 encourages “fear of police.” Richard Foltin, AJC's director of national and legislative Affairs stated: “This law essentially allows police to question and arrest people on little more than suspicion. It will encourage racial profiling, fear of police and further distrust in a community already wary of law enforcement.”
Conservative media obscure drastic implications of AZ law by pointing to a similar federal provision
Carlson: "[A]ll the state of Arizona appears to be doing is reinforcing what's already on the books." During the April 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson stated:
CARLSON: I'm a little confused over this whole thing. Why was the word in front of immigration for years and years and years illegal? Because it's illegal! There's a federal law on the books that says if you're here illegally, that's illegal! So all the state of Arizona appears to be doing is reinforcing what's already on the books. The only problem is in this country, many people argue, that we have not enforced that federal law. So will the state be allowed to do what it feels is in its right, which is to enforce the law.
Doocy: If Obama has “a problem with [Arizona's] law, he's actually got a problem with the federal law.” On April 26, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, "[D]oesn't your new law mirror a federal law? So if he's got a problem with your law, he's actually got a problem with the federal law":
DOOCY: Well, if the president of the United States, sheriff, has a problem with the Arizona law that's going to take effect in a couple of months --doesn't your new law mirror a federal law? So if he's got a problem with your law, he's actually got a problem with the federal law.
ARPAIO: Well that's what I've been saying. This law --this state law--does mirror the federal law. So maybe he should look at his own federal laws instead of criticizing the state of Arizona, the people of Arizona, that wanted this law passed.
CARLSON: Right, well many people are saying, you know, the law's on the books but nobody's been enforcing it.
Lowry: AZ law not “draconian,” “it's been a federal crime for more than half a century.” From Rich Lowry's April 27 New York Post column:
The Arizona law makes it a state crime for aliens not to have immigration documents on their person. This sounds draconian, except it's been a federal crime for more than half a century -- USC 1304(e). Has the open-borders crowd forgotten that it calls illegal aliens “undocumented” for a reason?
Cafferty: Parts of AZ law “are word for word the same as the federal statues.” From the April 26 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
CAFFERTY: President Obama called the Arizona law “misguided.”
What's misguided, Mr. President, is the federal government's ongoing refusal to enforce the laws that are already on the books.
Read the Arizona law. Parts of it are word for word the same as the federal statutes, which continue to be all but ignored.