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Arizona Immigration Law SB1070

A controversial legislative act in the U.S. state of Arizona that is the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in decades.

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How Do You Make a Law Like This Work?

  • May 4, 2010
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Illegal immigration is a problem.  Point taken.  It's been a problem in our country for a very long time.  How do you combat illegal immigratioin?  How do we get it under control?  Well, Arizona found a way.  Permit police officers to stop anyone they suspect of being an illegal alien and force them to show papers.  It's been labeled as by far the strictest immigration bill we've seen.  It should be noted that Arizona has been asking the Federal Government for help dealing with illegal immigration for a long time, and they were pretty much ignored.  Although Arizona is the first state to enact such a thing, countries such as France already do this.  I've no clue how it works for them, but for Arizona there are some pros and cons to the bill.

If you'd like to read the bill for yourself you can go here.  It's not a long bill.  It's about 17 pages, though it's not the kind of reading you'd want to do late at night unless you're having trouble sleeping.  Legislation isn't exciting to read.  There are certain aspects of the bill that are fine, though... although some of them simply reinforce what we've already tried to do.  Make it illegal to hire illegal aliens, make it illegal to harbor them etc.  This is all fine stuff within the bill in and of itself.  The part about the bill that goes a little too far is requiring immigrants to hold their papers on them at all times.  Some have falsely reported that it means everyone in the state of Arizona needs to carry their papers on them.  No... if you're a natural born US Citizen you're not actually required to... but you might as well.  Because the police are allowed to stop you just on the suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.  This means they can also stop and pull over US Citizens for this reason... even though the law only states immigrants actually need papers.  The law effectively allows for the police to question anyone's citizenship if they suspect you of being an illegal immigrant.

This is where the law becomes controversial.  In the first place, how do you tell an illegal immigrant from a legal one?  Even worse, how do you know if the person is an immigrant at all?  Few want to say it, but people are thinking it: Race.  This would be why Hispanics are more in an uproar than anyone else.  Arizona is right by the Mexican Border.  Unfortunately, there are also plenty of Hispanic natural born citizens.  So the problem with the bill is that it can be perceived that race makes a bigger deal than whether or not you actually have papers.  It's hard to tell who illegal immigrants are.  Even if you throw in race.  Arizona just takes it a step further and states that you need to show your immigration papers. 

This brings about the next question.  What if you happen to be an immigrant but left your papers at home or something?  Well, you get a misdemeanor charge.  This bill isn't going to start deporting people without finding out who they are.  That's part of the law... if they catch you and you're here illegally... they'll send you back.  If you're in the country legally but you don't have the papers to prove it... you're charged with a misdemeanor, provided they find out you actually are a US citizen.  You'll also have to pay a fine.  The law is harsher on you if you're already breaking a law when you're brought upon suspicion.  For example, the law is harsher on you if you're in possession of illegal drugs or illegal firearms or something.

The bill already got many heads turning.  One of Governor Brewer's aides stated that their office received over 15,000 phone calls before she ever signed it, showing incredibly strong opposition to the bill (not EVERY call, mind you, the aides estimated that at least 85% were unfavorable).  The opposition and/or support doesn't seem to be too politically based.  But one of the biggest criticisms of the law that pops up time and time again from all across the political spectrum is the worry that it will primarily be Hispanics targeted through this.  Meaning even natural born legal Hispanics might find themselves harassed.  The other concern that has come from law enforcement is how to train their officers to suspect illegal immigrants... without looking at just their race.  Arizona is even asking the federal government for help to figure out just how to do this. 

That's the biggest problem with the law.  "How do you know if you're dealing with an illegal immigrant?"  Jan Brewer herself even said that she didn't know how to spot an illegal immigrant when a reporter asked what an illegal immigrant looks like.  She also stated that racial profiling is against the law.  It brings about a conundrum for the law in and of itself... what are the characteristics of an illegal alien, and how do you go beyond simply looking at one's race?  There haven't been a lot of answers to that particular question just yet.  Some people have talked about the way they dress or their shoes, but that's just digging for answers to a question that they don't actually know the answer to.  Likewise, the idea that only Hispanics come to the country illegally is, well, false.  In 2008 Canada themselves actually reported that their own citizens illegally crossed the US border for jobs.  And surely people from overseas must find a way to get into America illegally as well.  What I'm getting at is that we all know there are illegal immigrants of all races and creeds.  Again, though, the issue is trying to figure out how you could spot such a person and know.  It's just too difficult to say what an illegal immigrant looks like considering how diverse America is. 

Even if the law specifically decided to stop anyone at random regardless of race (as Arizona is trying really hard to make sure it does--don't think Arizona isn't) there have already been plenty who have said that it feels like a violation of ones constitutional rights.  Senator Lindsey Graham stated that, and Mike Huckabee wasn't exactly too excited about the bill either, drawing comparison to Disneyland and how one doesn't have to flash their ticket to enjoy all the attractions.  This is not just some partisan debate.

Unfortunately it's hard to spot an illegal alien.  John Huppenthal stated that you have to be doing something suspiciously illegal to warrent questioning and you can just... well... ask.  According to the bill itself, that's not exactly true.  An officer doesn't need any reason than to suspect that you are in the country illegally.  It is entirely based upon discretion of the officer.  There is some protection provided in the bill because it actually DOES state that race CANNOT be the only suspecting factor.  Which brings about the question once more... how do you tell an illegal immigrant from a legal one?  How do you tell if someone is in the country illegally?  And how do you know that people are suspected because of race?  Despite that protection, it's not hard to come up with other reasons that people can give.  "It's not because of your race..." they might say.  And then throw out other excuses like... it's the clothes on your back or the shoes on your feet.  You can suspect someone based on race without actually stating it is their race that you are suspecting them.  It's difficult to prove either side, actually.  An officer is going to have a hard time proving it wasn't because of race and someone suspected will have a hard time proving that it was.  Granted, if you ARE doing something illegal and they question you... you brought that on yourself.  If not, then being asked to prove you're legally in the state can feel intrusive if you actually ARE a legal citizen.  Although it doesn't actually state that an officer has to tell you WHY you're being suspected in the first place.

America is a pretty multicultural country.  It's a melting pot of many different cultures and ethnicities because we actually have the freedom to be that way.  We're not a monotonous country.  Even the, "Well, they wear different clothes than us..." or "they wear different shoes," isn't going to be as strong of an argument in the long run.  It's simply going to be hard to actually make said law work.  Give Arizona credit, though, because they really are trying to go beyond race.  It's pretty apparent that they do understand there are natural born Hispanics.  The problem isn't so much that Hispanics will be targeted... the concern is actually that no other ethnic group will be targeted besides the Hispanic population.  When it comes to illegal immigration there is more to look for than just those coming from south of the border.  Arizona's officials know this... but they also know where the majority of their illegal immigrants come from.  Along those lines, it also explains why those who go beyond race don't particularly like the bill... it has the potential to make American's feel victimized for being Americans... in America. 

Some have endorsed the bill, stating that it's a step in the right direction.  And law enforcement officials who have endorsed the bill have been quick to point out that it is through their own discretion.  Likewise, it also brings about just how strongly the law itself is going to be enforced or if it's just going to go on the books.  Even with that last part in mind, however, the bill states that if the citizens of the state don't feel as though the law is actually being enforced, they can sue the state.

Even those in favor of the bill have to take a moment to think about it.  The bill doesn't do much of anything to stop illegal immigration.  All the law does is give law enforcement the power to try and guess who may or may not be in the country illegally.  It only takes a step forward in trying to figure out who could possibly be here illegally.   You're still going to get several who will slip through the cracks.  So even if you're in favor of Arizona's law... it just might not prove to be that effective almost based on the fact that it's a difficult law to enforce in the way they want to enforce it.  Likewise, the law is being left up to the discretion of officers, it doesn't actually mean they're going to use it... even with giving people the power to sue the state.  This means that things in Arizona might not change a whole lot in the long run.

Along those lines, those stating that the law somehow protects Arizona's borders are wrong to assume such a thing.  It only gives law enforcement the power to bring about suspicion.  There's nothing about securing the border in the law.  In terms of border control and security, Arizona's law does nothing to change things in that regard.  In short, the law doesn't keep illegal immigrants from coming into the state if they so desire... it just means there's a chance they could get caught... AFTER they've already gotten past the border.  It's almost like the law is stating "It's illegal to be an illegal alien."  This also means, like I said, that there's a chance they'll just slip through the cracks.

The law goes into effect during the summer.  When it does there will be a better chance to see the results of it.  The executiion of the law is where it gets difficult.  At least the way Arizona wants to go about it.  When the law goes into effect we'll be able to see how it turns out.  But even those who are really in favor and pushing this law may not get the result they want from it. 

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May 13, 2010
I didn't realize that I haven't commented on this write up. Very Good level-headed viewpoint. I do see that immigration is a huge problem in this country and I do believe that this needs to be addressed. I need to read the bill, it seems to not represent the ideals that I believe America is about from what people had told me, (but like I said I need to read it and decide for myself). My family paid a lot of $$ to Legally migrate here many decades ago, so I am not fond of illegal migrations but this does seem it is taking it too far. Nice work!
May 04, 2010
The way I understand it, just carry the papers with you (if not the actual document, then a photocopy of it). That's what you'd do when in a foreign country or traveling around. It saves a lot of potential problems for yourself not to mention in case you get hit by a car and lost your memory! It may be unfair for people who has got that look that polices love to stop them, but hey, the world has enough crooks to warrant some kind of identification, esp. in the U.S. where the citizens are allowed to carry guns! To me, it's an inconvenience but it's one that I can live with. As with other countries, we all are expected to carry our identity card and no one really think that much about it!
May 04, 2010
I believe there are some factual errors in your reading of this bill. Police are specifically PROHIBITED from stopping someone because of their race. Actually, they have to be involved in a legal stop (for instance, you just got caught stealing at Wal-Mart and the Police ask for identification and you present a Mexican birth certificate...or no papers at all). Some people claim that dirty cops will unfairly target Mexican "looking" people to harrss them. IF those cops exist already, I would submit they are already harassing Mexicans in violation of the law (and their oath). We need a comprehensive immigration law that makes it easier to get work visas, a physical barrier along the border and a law that makes illegals go back to their country of origin and wait at the back of the line while those who applied for work Visas the proper way get expedited Visas.
May 06, 2010
Speaking of race...it always confused me that nearly all African-American voters I have known in my lifetime have been registered Democrats and almost every racist I have known in my life has also been Democrat. Yet they pin that label on Republicans. I am Independent and vote a split ticket when necessary, but identify more with the Republican concept (minus the big spending they have become prone to) and find it offensive the way the racism card is played so carelessly.
More Arizona Immigration Law SB1070 reviews
review by . May 23, 2010
Will Common Sense Ever Prevail?
Okay.  It is my turn to weigh in on Arizona Senate Bill 1070.  I am tired of cops getting the bum rap as the target of the opposition to Arizona SB 1070.  It seems that cops, whom we trust enough to arm with weapons and to whom we authorize the use of deadly force, are incapable of fairly applying the law.  No, I'm wrong.  It seems cops are racist.  They have nothing better to do than to target illegal aliens, or any other person who "looks" illegal.   …
Quick Tip by . August 02, 2010
posted in Politics Your Way
This is getting annoying because CNN is reporting now that Virginia just said they will be stopping people asking for their papers. I remember a government doing the same thing and they made people wear a six pointed star on their chest. Is our country headed in that direction?
Quick Tip by . September 02, 2010
posted in Politics Your Way
A hateful, unconstitutional law which has brought economic ruin to Arizona due to widespread boycotts. The original authors were connected with Stormfront, the governor has a cozy relationship with the for profit prison industry. It's the usual eyewatering corruption and hate we see from the American right.
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2010
It seems that Mr. Obama has more sympathy for the illegal residents of Arizona than the actual U.S. citizens and legal residents.
Quick Tip by . April 28, 2010
What people don't understand is that due to NAFTA, our subsidized corn was dumped on the Mexican market and put 1000s of farmers out of biz.
Quick Tip by . April 27, 2010
posted in That's Beat
And now they've institutionalized racism. There have been laws in the past that have encouraged racism, but this is even worse. Bad Arizona!
Quick Tip by . April 26, 2010
What a novel idea! A government entity that will actually protect our borders.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #5
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and thus often referred to simply as Arizona SB 1070) is a legislative act in the U.S. state of Arizona that is the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in decades. It has received national and international attention and has spurred considerable controversy.

U.S. federal law requires certain aliens to register with the U.S. government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times. The Arizona Act additionally makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, bars state or local officials or agencies from restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens. The paragraph on intent in the legislation says it embodies an "attrition through enforcement" doctrine.

Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law prohibits the use of race as the sole basis for investigating immigration status. The law was modified by Arizona House Bill 2162 within a week of its signing with the goal of addressing some of these concerns. There have been protests in opposition to the law in over 70 U.S. cities, including boycotts and calls for boycotts of Arizona. Polling has found the law to have majority support in Arizona and nationwide. Passage of the measure has prompted ...
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