By Jack Minor,
For the Greeley Gazette
Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed SB 1070 into law Friday April 23. Since the signing of this bill, politicians and media outlets have had no shortage of comments regarding it. What has been overlooked is what the bill actually says and does.
The bill was borne of frustration by the state of Arizona over the federal government’s refusal to act on the issue of illegal immigration, as well as a failure to enforce current immigration laws. According to statistics, Arizona has 460,000 illegal immigrants in the state. The state also borders Mexico, with many areas acting as a main corridor for those crossing into the U.S.
Opponents of the bill have likened it to Nazi Germany. Democratic Chicago Alderman Daniel Solis said “what has happened in Arizona is very similar to what happened in Nazi Germany.” Mexican President Felipe Calderon said “My government cannot and will not remain indifferent when these kinds of policies go against human rights,”
ABC news reports on the law said “The Arizona law makes is a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected undocumented persons about their status without a warrant.” Supporters of the bill say that all it does is mirror existing federal law regarding immigration. President Obama admitted the Arizona law is a result of the failure by the Federal Government to act stating the absence of a federal resolution “opens the door to irresponsibility of others.”
With all of the passion on both sides, it is important to see what the bill actually says. Critics of the bill state that it will permit police to inquire about the status of individuals with little or no reason and will lead to racial profiling.
The bill specifies when police are permitted to inquire about a person’s immigration status in Sec 2(b) where it says police can only ask individuals about their status when they are approached for a “lawful contact” and when “reasonable suspicion exists.”
The bill goes on to state that investigations will not be conducted based solely on “race, color or national origin.” To further ensure the bill would not lead to racial profiling, Governor Brewer in conjunction with signing the bill issued an executive order mandating police training, specifying what reasonable suspicion meant as well as prohibiting racial profiling. In spite of these guidelines, President Obama last week stated “Now suddenly if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed, that’s something that could potentially happen.”
Supporters of the bill have pointed out that individuals are frequently asked to provide identification for a variety of things, including boarding an airplane, writing checks and obtaining a job. They also mention that police asked for driver identification at each traffic stop and that providing such identification would assume the driver is in fact not illegal.
The bill contains other provisions holding employers accountable if they hire or subcontract with illegal immigrants. The law considers businesses to have complied if they use the federal government’s e-verify program to check an applicant’s status.
The bill also makes human smuggling illegal.Critics maintain the bill will make it against the law for someone to take a family member to the doctor it that individual is here illegally. Supporters point out that federal law has authorized state and local authorities to arrest individuals for alien smuggling for over 40 years. The language in the Arizona law is nearly identical to language found in H.R. 1029 the Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2009 which prescribes penalties for anyone who “transports or moves that individual in the United States, in furtherance of their unlawful presence; or harbors, conceals, or shields from detection the individual in any place in the United States, including any building or any means of transportation.”
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, who is currently running for the US Senate told the Gazette that he is in favor of the bill and that it was an unfortunate necessity because of the federal government’ failure to enforce existing law.
A recent UPI poll shows 70 percent of the American people support who cannot prove they are in the country legally. Arizona Governor Brewer’s approval ratings have risen by 16 points since her signing of the bill.
Tags: Arizona, Bill, Chicago, chicago alderman, Daniel Solis, government, Governor Brewer, Governor Jan Brewer, H.R, Jack Minor, Ken Buck, law, mexican president felipe calderon, Mexico, nazi germany, Police, President Felipe Calderon, President Obama, reasonable suspicion, state, U.S., U.S. Opponents, United States, Weld County