Arizona is not known for stretching a welcome mat across its long desert
border with Mexico. The state's laws are among the country's harshest
and most restrictive toward illegal immigrants. Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County was dubbed "America's toughest sheriff
for his sweeping arrests and sometimes rough treatment of suspected
illegal immigrants. But Arizona's strict anti-immigration stance is
about to get even stricter. The state senate has passed a new law that,
if passed, will bring restrictions against suspected illegal immigrants,
and relevant police powers, to unprecedented levels. Many national
political pundits are stidently opposed or, in the case of many
conservatives, conspicuously silent.
- What the Bill Does
The New York Times' Randal Archibold reports, "The bill
makes it a state crime for immigrants not to carry authorization
papers, requires the police 'when practicable' to check the immigration
status of people they reasonably suspect are in the country illegally
and allows people to sue cities and counties if the law is not being
enforced." Gawker's Alex Pareene summarizes,
"Now any cop in Arizona can ask anyone to prove their immigration
status, and every cop in Arizona is compelled, under threat of lawsuit,
to enforce federal immigration laws." Police do not require warrants or
the proof of probable cause to detain suspected illegal immigrants.
Guy Behind It Citing the New York Times report, Gawker's Jeff Neumann calls the bill's
author, state senator Russell Pearce, "a friend of neo-nazis." Neumann
cites photographs of Pearce appearing with a man who was also the
featured speaker at a neo-nazi gathering, Pearce's stated admiration of
a 1950s program called "Operation Wetback," and an email he sent to
supporters that included (mistakenly, he said) an attachment from a
white supremacist group.
- Reminiscent of 'Fascist Europe' The
Los Angeles Times editorial board calls
it "racial profiling," lamenting, "Even legal immigrants, in a move that
harks back to fascist Europe, would be required to carry their papers
at all times or risk arrest."
- 'Off the Deep End' The New York Times is appalled.
"The Arizona Legislature has just stepped off the deep end of the
immigration debate, passing a harsh and mean-spirited bill that would do
little to stop illegal immigration. What it would do is lead to more
racial profiling, hobble local law enforcement, and open government
agencies to frivolous, politically driven lawsuits."
Mass Deportations Writing in the Huffington Post, Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez warns, "The
Obama administration has escalated mass deportation as our singular
approach to immigrants ... We are now deporting people at a rate of
1,000 per day -- with nearly half of the arrests in the state of Arizona
-- and now the state legislature is on the verge of escalating that
- Legislation Unlike Anything Since Jim Crow Arizona-based legal defender Isabel Garcia tells CNN
that the bill "legalizes racial profiling." She says,"I think this bill
represents the most dangerous precedent in this country, violating all
of our due process rights. ... We have not seen this kind of legislation
since the Jim Crow laws. And targeting our communities, it is the
single most largest attack on our communities."
- AZ Senators: We Don't All Support The Washington Independent's Julizza Trevino reports,
"Several senators spoke out against the bill, arguing that Arizona could
become the Alabama of the new century, that the bill may be
unconstitutional and that it could turn family members of illegal
immigrants into criminals. One senator called the bill 'un-American,'
and another expressed concern over how Arizona might be viewed if the
legislation were passed and whether tourism would suffer as a result."
Obama Could Have Averted This The American Prospect's Adam Serwer sighs, "this episode illustrates the folly of
having tapped Janet Napolitanoto serve as Secretary of Homeland
Security, given her past role as a check against the worst
anti-immigrant impulses of Arizona politicians when she was the state's
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