Arizona’s bill orders immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the United States illegally. It also targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.
Critics, including immigrant advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, are concerned that the legislation will foster racial profiling, arguing that most police officers don’t have enough training to look past race while investigating a person’s legal status.
Hethmon cited the election year, the Democratic leadership’s position on the issue and the tough economic times as catalysts for introducing legislation.
“Historically, not only in the U.S. but in virtually all industrialized nations, when the unemployment rates go up … the public becomes much less sympathetic toward programs which bring in large numbers of foreigners as workers and economic players,” he said.
Omar Jadwat, the staff attorney with the ACLU‘s Immigrants Rights’ Project, said following in Arizona’s footsteps would take states in the wrong direction.
“Although we are aware that people are trying to convince other legislatures to go down this path, I think it’s clear that both as a policy matter and a legal matter, that Arizona’s approach is the wrong one,” he said.
Isabel Garcia, a legal defender in Arizona’s Pima County, blasted the bill as “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,” she said.
–Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce
Pearce brushed off her criticism, saying, ” ‘Illegal’ is not a race, it’s a crime.”
“We do not tolerate those who break into our country, just like we don’t tolerate those who break into our homes,” he said.