Arizona, Immigration, and Moral Panic

When I first heard of the controversy swirling around Arizona’s “draconian” new immigration law, I’ll admit I was skeptical. It’s not that I thought I would approve of the Arizona law (I tend to be of the view that immigration is a net benefit to America). But hyperbole is an all too common feature of political discourse, and I had to wonder whether the bill was really as harsh and wrongheaded as its critics were making out.

After reading the text of the bill, however, I have to say that, yes, it really is that bad. The bill would criminalize charitable activities directed at illegal immigrants, would making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to try to get a legitimate job, and, in an Orwellian twist, would make illegal immigrants guilty of trespassing for being on private property even with the owner’s permission.

The law also requires state officials to enforce federal immigration laws, effectively turning every Arizona cop into a part time border patrol agent. Arizona’s politicians may like the idea of having cops enforce the immigration code because it makes them look tough, but actual police tend to hate the idea, as it makes their job more difficult and forces them to take resources away from actual police work. (During the debate on the Bush immigration bill back in 2006, for example, the Major Cities Chiefs Associations came out against a requirement for state police to enforce immigration laws, arguing that doing so “undermines trust and cooperation with immigrant communities, which are essential elements of community oriented policing,” and would require scarce resources to be devoted to immigration enforcement rather than other, higher priorities).

And, mind you, the law doesn’t just empower state officials to enforce immigration laws. It mandates that they do so. Under the law, any citizen who feels the state or locality isn’t fully enforcing the immigration laws (perhaps because they are spending to much time trying to solve murders instead of raiding soup kitchens) can bring a lawsuit to force them to do so. Failure to fully enforce the law results in a $5,000 fine per day of noncompliance.

The main justification for the Arizona law seems to be that it is necessary to stop violent crimes, gangs, and drug dealing by illegal immigrants. Of course, most of the provisions of the bill have nothing to do with stopping drugs or gangs, and several would make it harder to do so (are illegal immigrants more or less likely to get involved with a drug gang if they can’t find legitimate employment?) A bigger problem with this argument, however, is that violent crime has actually been receding in Arizona in recent years. In 2008, for example, Arizona’s violent crime rate was lower than it had been since 1971, and the state’s murder rate was significantly below what it was for most of the 1990s (so were the rates for rape, burglary, larceny, aggravated assault, robbery, property crime, and auto theft). An FBI report from December compiling data for the first half of 2009 shows continuing declines. This is hardly surprising. As an article in the American Conservative (not a traditionally pro-immigrant outfit) noted just last month, illegal immigrants tend to be less likely to engage in criminal activity than other groups because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves.

It’s probably going too far to simply dismiss concern about immigration as an example of moral panic, but it does seem that the Arizona law is wildly out of proportion to any danger posed by illegal immigrants, and is misdirected to boot.

UPDATE: It appears that I may have linked to the wrong version of the bill text (at least, that’s according to Mark Krikorian at the Corner). The actual version of the bill that was passed does not appear to include the provision making it trespassing for an illegal immigrant to be on private property with the owner’s permission, but otherwise appears to the objectionable features of the Senate version. Indeed in at least one case it appears to be worse. Commenter Jonathan, for example, had argued that the bill would not criminalize the provision of charitable services to illegal immigrants because the anti-harboring provision said that it was illegal to “conceal…in violation of law” rather than simply saying “it is unlawful for a person to:…conceal.” The final version of the bill says the latter.

I apologize for the error.

0 Responses to Arizona, Immigration, and Moral Panic

  • Under the law, any citizen who feels the state or locality isn’t fully enforcing the immigration laws (perhaps because they are spending to much time trying to solve murders instead of raiding soup kitchens)

    Just out of curiousity, do you have an idea of what share of a typical departments man-hours are actually devoted to investigating homicides, and at what point the marginal utility of adding additional officers to such detail falls to zero?

  • The cops in Central Illinois, in my experience as a Defense Attorney, seem to have quite a bit of time to devote to such subjects as low level cannabis arrests, not wearing seat belt arrests, domestic battery arrests where no blows are exchanged, overweight trucks, cars with windows that are tinted too dark, etc. I doubt if checking on the immigrant status of people would take much time away from murders, etc.

  • I don’t think the argument used to justify the law was that the police don’t have anything better to do than look for illegal immigrants.

  • It seems to me that the article from American Conservative basically proves that crime rates for Hispanics, while higher than those for whites, are really close. I don’t really understand how that translates, “illegal aliens don’t break the law.” You do understand our problem isn’t with Hispanics?
    Also, you state “And, mind you, the law doesn’t just empower state officials to enforce immigration laws. It mandates that they do so.” A law that mandates police enforce the law does not fill me with righteous anger.

  • “I don’t think the argument used to justify the law was that the police don’t have anything better to do than look for illegal immigrants.”

    One of your attacks on the law did appear to be BA that it would divert the police from more important functions. I doubt very seriously if this would be the case.

    I think the main arguments in favor of the law would be that Arizona would be better off by stopping or slowing the flow of illegal aliens and that the Federal government has proven both inept and uninterested in stopping illegal border crossings. I have a feeling that the main effect of the law might be that it will cause illegal aliens to head for states that are considered illegal alien friendly like California. I suspect that result will bring broad smiles to the faces of most Arizonans.

  • The cops in Central Illinois, in my experience as a Defense Attorney..

    Well, but you only see the cases that are actually charged. That could represent a small percentage of the activity of the police; also, it could be that Central Illinois law enforcement has different priorities and staffing than Arizona law enforcement; or, it could be that the levels of criminal activity are different between the states. It is instructive, however, that the police in the situation are concerned about these issues, and have said so publicly.

    Even if they are wrong, I don’t think the law should criminalize charitable activities or charge invited guests for trespassing (a law which, one suspects, will simply increase the level of crime appearing in statistics on illegal immigration).

  • “Well, but you only see the cases that are actually charged.”

    Yep. I know that cops waste far more time on inconsequential offenses that are never charged.

    “It is instructive, however, that the police in the situation are concerned about these issues, and have said so publicly.”

    Major City Chiefs tend to be political appointees who are usually far more concerned about politics than policing in my experience and often take stances that bear no relationship to the attitudes expressed by the cops who actually enforce the laws.

  • I think CA Prop 187 is about was far as I’m willing to go on the “I’m peeved the Feds don’t enforce the immigration laws” tack. This seems to me to be going very much too far.

  • Prop 187 made a lot of sense, so naturally a federal judge found it to be unconstitutional:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_187_(1994)

  • One of your attacks on the law did appear to be BA that it would divert the police from more important functions.

    Well I do think that. However, the law has been justified by some pretty apocalyptic language, invoking drug gangs, murders, kidnappings, etc. If it turns out that crime in Arizona is more akin to the Central Illinois town where you work, then I’d say the bill was passed under false pretenses (what is the murder rate for your town, btw?)

  • A law that mandates police enforce the law does not fill me with righteous anger.

    In that case perhaps we should mandate cops spend their time doing audits for the IRS or spot inspections for the EPA. After all, they’d just be enforcing the law. Which is their job, right?

  • BA,

    Here is one reading of the law: http://legalinsurrection.blogspot.com/2010/04/saturday-night-card-game-arizona.html.

    You note the law would:

    1. Criminalize charitable activities directed at illegal immigrants

    2. Make it a crime for an illegal immigrant to try to get a legitimate job

    3. Make illegal immigrants guilty of trespassing for being on private property even with the owner’s permission.

    4. Require state officials to enforce federal immigration laws.

    Some notes of mine:

    1. Any such identification must be made pursuant to an otherwise lawful incident (in other words, no searching / stopping / arresting based on suspicion of status alone).

    2. If the US Government gives an indication that such a person is illegal, the AZ police then turn the person over to Federal custody. The Federal law does not give exclusive right to enforcement of Federal law to Federal officers, I do not think, or at the very least, does not prevent state officers who have been informed that an individual is violating Federal law from taking such an individual into custody.

    3. It is already illegal under Federal law for an employer to hire illegal immigrants. Why are you concerned that this law makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to be hired, when the Federal law does so already?

    4. What charitable functions do you think are affected by this law, and what sections support your claim?

  • “(what is the murder rate for your town, btw?)”

    Shockingly high for a town of 4000 actually. In 2002 in a case in which I was involved two kids were murdered by their father, for example. My former partner’s great,great grand father was the first recorded murder victim in Dwight. The richest man in town was gunned down in broad daylight by Chicago gangsters in 1933, the rumor in town being that he was keeping time with a mob boss’ moll. I’d say that the town has averaged about one murder every other year since I arrived in town in 85.

  • “In that case perhaps we should mandate cops spend their time doing audits for the IRS…”

    When tax-cheats engage in human trafficking, drug smuggling, murder and mayhem in the streets and in the countryside, then maybe we should.

  • Any such identification must be made pursuant to an otherwise lawful incident (in other words, no searching / stopping / arresting based on suspicion of status alone).

    Outside of traffic stops the police can pretty much always come up and talk to you if they wish, and often they have to in order to do their job. Suppose, for example, that a woman is raped and the police are canvassing the neighborhood to see if their are any witnesses. Everyone they talk to will be via a lawful contact and, under the law, they will have to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect might be an illegal immigrant. Of course if they do that, then illegals won’t ever talk to the police, which will make it more difficult for the police to solve the crime (obviously this is purely hypothetical, as cops in Arizona don’t do anything but arrest people for not wearing seat belts).

    It is already illegal under Federal law for an employer to hire illegal immigrants. Why are you concerned that this law makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to be hired, when the Federal law does so already?

    I don’t think it makes it a criminal offense to do so.

    What charitable functions do you think are affected by this law, and what sections support your claim?

    Section 13-2929(A)(2). A friend of mine used to work at a homeless shelter in El Paso. Most of the folks there were illegal immigrants. I suspect that this is true for most social services in border areas (fwiw, the local INS head had an agreement with the head of the homeless shelter that he would leave them alone as he didn’t want to interfere with the provision of charitable services; if a state official in Arizona followed a similar course he could be fined $5,000 a day).

  • Btw, Jonathan, the blog post you link to is explicitly limited to arguing that the Arizona law isn’t racist:

    If you want to argue that the law is not sound on civil liberties grounds, do so. If you want to argue that as a matter of public policy local governments should not enforce the immigration laws, then make that argument.

    But the one argument which is not legitimate is that the law is racist.

    As I didn’t argue that the law was racist, I don’t see how the blog post is relevant.

  • Prop 187 made a lot of sense, so naturally a federal judge found it to be unconstitutional

    I think that 187 did indeed make a lot of sense. (I was a Californie at the time, so I was right in the middle of it.) No thanks to the Feds on that one.

    However, I think this law sounds rather overboard.

  • “Everyone they talk to will be via a lawful contact and, under the law, they will have to verify the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect might be an illegal immigrant.”

    They will have to make a reasonable attempt, “when practicable,” to verify immigration status. In the course of an investigation, it would seem to be up to the officer’s discretion as to whether it is practicable at that point to do so.

    It also does not appear that the immigrant may be taken into custody purely on that status alone. There must be some other reason for assessment of criminal status.

    So, you’re more concerned with the criminal status than with the actual illegality of the job seeking? It did not seem so in your original post.

    Finally, section 13-2929(A)(2) states that it is illegal to “conceal…in violation of law” when the person doing the concealment “is in violation of a criminal offense.” So, it would have to mean that the person running the homeless shelter is already committing or has committed some criminal offense, and is attempting to harbor or conceal illegal immigrants in addition. If it were general, the wording would have to be “it is unlawful for a person to:…conceal” without the addition “in violation of a criminal offense.”

  • BA,

    The post I linked to also does a good job analyzing and clarifying some of the things (such as enforcement of federal laws) that you raise as concerns. I was not worried about the consideration of the racist part, as such.

    -J.

  • BTW,

    It appears that much of this bill is repeating Federal law in places. For instance, a much more intense version of this bill’s language is found at 8 USC 1324 – http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode08/usc_sec_08_00001324—-000-.html

  • BA,
    Really, really, bad example. That shelter was not a homeless shelter so much as it was the Catholic Diocese of El Paso’s whistle stop on the underground railroad up to Chicago and other points, north. If you didn’t know, they had facilities on both sides of the border (meaning in what is now the war zone of Juarez)and worked primarily for the purpose of frustrating the enforcement of US immigration law. I don’t know if they are still there, but if they are, they are surely more about violating our immigration law than they are about caring for the needs of the homeless in the community; of which we have plenty.
    As a former officer of the US government, I doubt the local INS chief had the authority to agree not to do his job.

  • I’m not sure why anyone would want to cite Prop 187 as a precedent here. After all, the law (1) did serious damage to the Republican party in California (and, by extension, the nation), and (2) never went into effect. So even if you think the law sounded good in theory, in practice all it did was hurt the Republican party, literally.

    In the other thread Donald cited an article arguing that what happened in California wouldn’t happen in Arizona because voter turnout among Hispanics is low in Arizona. Er, is it not possible that the passage of this bill might change that? As I reflect on the matter, it is increasingly clear to me that this law will never go into effect (there are serious preemption and 4th Amendment problems with it, to say the least). So if there is a backlash and the Dems get another 10 sure thing electoral votes, you won’t even be able to say “well, at least we stuck it to the illegals.”

  • Arizona isn’t California BA just like Texas isn’t California. The demographics and the politics are completely different. Additionally the Democrat dream is that Hispanics will give them a permanent electoral majority, especially if this country continues to essentially have a “Y’all come!” policy to illegal immigration from Mexico. The politics are not so simple. Stop illegal immigration, or simply substantially reduce it, and assimilation and time will lessen the Democrat advantage among Hispanics. Political suicide for the Republicans is to continue to sit by and allow the Federal government to do nothing to stem the flow of illegal aliens.

  • FWIW, I don’t think that 187 hurt the GOP in California particularly. Indeed, 187 was one of the first high profile cases of the California GOP getting behind what proved to be fairly popular populist ballot measures.

    What’s crippled the GOP in California has been a combination of:

    1) The state becoming one of the most liberal in the nation in regards to polled opinion, with much of this centering around the LA and SanFran metropolitan areas (which have seen a huge influx of highly educated urban elite demographics over the last 30 years).

    2) The split within the California GOP between fairly liberal Republicans (as typified by Pete Wilson, Arnold, Meg Whitman, etc.) and hard right candidates from the more rural parts of the state and a few of the affluent suburbs. The state party is pretty well split between those two factions, each one of which is willing to refuse to support candidates put forward by the other.

    3) Some of the strongest public sector unions in the country.

    The state politics of California have become increasingly self-destructive on both sides of the aisle, but I don’t think it accurately reflects the history there to argue that 187 was a key turning point against the GOP. If anything, it underlined the ability of conservative ballot measures to do significantly better than GOP state candidates usually do at the polls. Further examples including the marriage ballot initiative, the marriage amendment, and the Grey Davis recall.

  • That said, while I don’t claim to know anything about the internal political dynamics in Arizona, it’s hard for me to imagine that this kind of stunt (which seems far more punitive and impractical than 187) will do the GOP any good. Even if it’s locally popular, it seems to reinforce an impractical reactionary streak which makes the GOP a bad governing party no matter how good it may be for campaigning.

  • This unmatched chaos caused by decades of unimportance as seen by both political parties over illegal immigration. In this firestorm of an issue we need to enact immediately the following measures to stabilize our nation’s immigration enforcement. This is specifically come to the surface after the bloody murder of Robert Krentz, rancher and landowner, with the upsurge in deaths of border Patrol agents and illegal aliens. 1. Deploy the National Guard permanently–fully armed along the border from San Diego, CA to Brownville, Texas. 2. Make it a felony with prison time for any employer not using the computer application E-Verify, to identify all workers on the payroll. This program will improve nationwide impact of self-deportation by ATTRITION, over the coming years for unlawful labor. 3. To terminate decades of unprecedented billions of dollars of debt for support of illegal immigrants on taxpayers. Read what Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) has to say about what taxpayers are forced to pay for 20 to 30 million illegal immigrants at–THE DAILY CALLER WEBSITE.

    Reestablish the legality of instant citizenship to babies born to an illegal parent or parents in federal court. 4. Make absolutely sure that any incumbent of both parties, starting with Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is thrown out of office this year. Send this searing message to–ALL–pro illegal immigrant, Pro-amnesty politicians that America will not stand any longer lawmakers that are for sale to the highest bidder. 5. Those elected will re-fence the border as two separate barriers, with an open tracking area in between for the movement of National Guardsman accompanying the US Border patrol with full funding. That lawmakers who are supposedly there to represent every citizen and permanent resident possessing a green card, appropriate the money to seal the border from illegal entry. That these same elected officials have already spent $445 Billion dollars in taxpayer’s money in supporting some distant foreign government in Afghanistan; they therefore can easily appropriate funds for the correctly designed border fence.

    As a patriotic people we will voice our vehemence that we will join the war against any type of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. That contains in any shape or form a citizenship path, for those who stole into America. THERE WILL BE NO AMNESTY–NO PARDON FOR CRIMINALS WHO IGNORE OUR LAWS. We are not the financial, free-handout for foreign labor, which cannot support those entering America illegally. Arizona is the first state with a backbone that has been financial crippled by welfare payments to illegal alien families. Its undercurrent caused by the rising crime rate never seen to this extent before. Violence on a grand scale has flowed across the Rio Grande from the illicit drug industry. Exhaustion of the local police in Phoenix and other communities unable to handle the daily homicides, kidnappings, home invasions, predatory smuggling people and the narcotics trade.

    Any state, county city, town or public servant that boycotts the exceptional state of Arizona, should be black-listed. Hopefully–Americans will donate (however small) money to Arizona if the Governor Jan brewer gets sued. Perhaps a good patriotic American will arrange a website for everybody to give money in the immediate future? If and when it happens my check will be waiting…? If that happens Americans will boycott companies that hire illegal immigrants and that I will add–ONE–company hiring foreign labor to my blogs.

    NUMBERSUSA–is the website for the legal people of this country, so you can fight this illegal immigrant epidemic–with over a MILLION–members. We are here to tell the–TRUTH–not lies or well-honed rhetoric as the Far-Left liberals, hidden inside the Democratic Party, not from the Liberal editors of national press at the, Huffington Post, New York Times or the Los Angeles Times and others.

  • An impractical reactionary policy Darwin is thinking that the current policy of de facto open borders with Mexico can continue. This nation cannot continue being a safety valve forever for the failure of Mexican elites to reform their economy to provide economic growth for their citizens. I think most of the country agrees which is why Rasmussen is showing 60% support for the law across the nation.

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/immigration/nationally_60_favor_letting_local_police_stop_and_verify_immigration_status

    As for being a bad governing party, the saving grace for Republicans is that they get to run against Democrats who have amply demonstrated this election cycle just how bad a governing party can be.

  • Joe Hargrave continues to mistakenly believe this law does something to fight drug violence.

    Jonathan,

    It also does not appear that the immigrant may be taken into custody purely on that status alone. There must be some other reason for assessment of criminal status.

    The law also makes presence in the state a crime.

    13-2929(A) uses some curious phrasing. So I can harbor illegal immigrants but not if I didn’t pay my taxes?

  • The Rasmussen poll is interesting. Most believe the law will violate civil rights but most still support it.

  • As for being a bad governing party, the saving grace for Republicans is that they get to run against Democrats who have amply demonstrated this election cycle just how bad a governing party can be.

    No disagreement from me there.

    I also agree that tough immigration enforcement is broadly popular, at least in concept, throughout the country. And I think that whatever laws we have, we should enforce — though I’d like to see higher immigration quotas and a much simpler immigration process.

    However, at the same time, I think the extent to which heavy immigration from Mexico is hurting the US is in most cases overplayed. The fact that lots of people eager to work are coming into the US and working or starting businesses tends to help us and hurt Mexico, not the other way around.

    It is certainly a big problem when we have cross-border gangs and other criminal organizations — but I’m not clear that’s related to the issue of people simply wanting to come here to work.

  • If Tom Tancredo thinks the law goes too far, it probably goes too far.

  • In 2008, there were candidates that ran for offices in places like Arizona that ran as restrictionists and lost. Immigration polling suffers from a lot of issues polling in that it measures sentiment and not depth. Consensus was that being restrictionist wouldn’t preclude someone from election, but it wasn’t enough to secure them power.

    Right now, there isn’t any real institutional support for Arizona’s law, so it will become more unpopular over time. (As a note, I haven’t reviewed the bill itself.) As for the politics, who know? I know, a rare admission of modesty on my part. I imagine Arizonians aren’t in the habit of sending people to the statehouse to address immigration, so I’m thinking they won’t be evaluated too strongly on that matter. Arizona’s staggering budget deficit and massive cuts to public schools will likely be issues that have an impact.

  • “As I reflect on the matter, it is increasingly clear to me that this law will never go into effect (there are serious preemption and 4th Amendment problems with it, to say the least). So if there is a backlash and the Dems get another 10 sure thing electoral votes, you won’t even be able to say “well, at least we stuck it to the illegals.”

    The real poltical backlash and how it will delay real immigration reform often gets overlooked

  • “that the Federal government has proven both inept and uninterested in stopping illegal border crossings.”

    I think this is a little too braod. Once can say LOOK STATE and Local Govt don’t care about Druck Drivers because they are still on the road

    There has been a lot of effort at the border and some immigration folks are screaming at Obama at the high level of deportations

    The fact is it is not so mucha failure of Federal Govt but a failure of the American people to quit letting the extrmes on either side that want move a inch define the debate and the solutions

    Till that cahnges nothing will happen.

  • However, at the same time, I think the extent to which heavy immigration from Mexico is hurting the US is in most cases overplayed. The fact that lots of people eager to work are coming into the US and working or starting businesses tends to help us and hurt Mexico, not the other way around.

    Common theoretical exercises of the sort published in textbooks tend to demonstrate that trade in factors of production (e.g. labor as manifested in immigration) are beneficial economically. If I am not mistaken, this has been empirically verified, but the benefits are small and collared for the most part by the immigrant populations themselves. The benefit to the extant population is tiny (IIRC, one study put it at <0.1% of domestic product per annum) and sensitive to the public benefits regime (which the judiciary fancies they ought to have discretion over, natch).

    Immigration streams are regulated by a famously incompetent bureaucracy, are in their source severely maldistributed, are modally from a country suffering severe social pathologies at this point in time, are arriving in a society where the dominant faction of the elite is dedicated to the fostering of unassimilable subcultures for its own self-aggrandizement, and tend (to a small degree) to damage the employment prospect of the lower strata of the labor force. In short, mass immigration is a loser as a social (not economic) proposition.

    The thing is, immigration cannot be conducted according to public policy if it is not controlled. It is not controlled if you do not enforce the law. It is not terribly credible that that cannot be done, which makes much discussion of immigration regimes rather exasperating.

  • “There has been a lot of effort at the border and some immigration folks are screaming at Obama at the high level of deportations”

    I disagree jh. What enforcement there is tends to be for show. That is why we have such absurdities as a return to “catch and release”,

    http://myvisausa.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/immigration-enforcement-agents-drive-illegal-aliens-to-work/

    and the abandonment of the virtual fence along the southern border.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/us/17fence.html

    The Obama administration is as serious about curbing illegal immigration as it is about curbing government spending.

  • I am against any law that attempts to stop Mexican Gangs from racially profiling their victims.

  • “13-2929(A) uses some curious phrasing. So I can harbor illegal immigrants but not if I didn’t pay my taxes?”

    As noted over on Volokh, that is one of the ambiguities of the law. However, I suspect that will be worked out in the courts and in further revisions.

  • Here’s an example of moral panic. Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote in a blog post, “I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques.”

    Failed words from a failed prelate.

  • UPDATE: It appears that I may have linked to the wrong version of the bill text (at least, that’s according to Mark Krikorian at the Corner). The actual version of the bill that was passed does not appear to include the provision making it trespassing for an illegal immigrant to be on private property with the owner’s permission, but otherwise appears to the objectionable features of the Senate version. Indeed in at least one case it appears to be worse. Commenter Jonathan, for example, had argued that the bill would not criminalize the provision of charitable services to illegal immigrants because the anti-harboring provision said that it was illegal to “conceal…in violation of law” rather than simply saying “it is unlawful for a person to:…conceal.” The final version of the bill says the latter.

    I apologize for the error.

  • This is funny. Mark Krikorian links to the wrong bill too! It took me a while to track the final final bill down. http://www.azsos.gov/public_services/Chapter_Laws/2010/49th_legislature_2nd_regular_session/CH_113.pdf

    The trespassing language is gone but doesn’t really make a difference. “Trespassing” is replaced with “willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document.” So illegal immigrants can be in the state but not without papers which means they can’t be in the state. Same thing.

    The harboring ambiguity is back. A court looking at the legislative history can’t read the qualifier out since it was removed by the House at one point then put back in. A very good case can be made for voiding the entire section.

  • Don, you may recall that when the mandatory seat belt laws took effect in Illinois everyone was repeatedly assured that police were not going to stop anyone “just” for not wearing a seat belt — they would only ticket if you were caught doing something else like speeding and they noticed that you also were not buckled up. Well, that isn’t the case anymore — seat belt violations can now be treated as a “primary offense.” Plus, we also have the periodic “roadside safety checks” where everyone is stopped and asked for their license, insurance cards, etc.

    Now, if the intent of the law in Arizona is to allow or encourage local police who stop or arrest a suspect on probable cause for ANOTHER crime to also check the suspect’s immigration status while they are at it, that would not be so bad. However, given what has happened with seatbelt laws, drunk driving, insurance laws, etc. I fear that the law as written could very easily devolve into a situation in which either 1) people start getting pulled over for “driving while Hispanic” or 2) in reaction to 1), police start demanding some kind of citizenship documentation from everyone they arrest, including Anglos, to prove that they are not “profiling.”

  • I certainly do remember that Elaine! I recently had a conversation with one of my judge friends where he told me about a jury trial he had over a seat belt case. He was pretty ticked that the State was wasting his time with a prosecution on just a seat belt.

    You raise a legitimate concern in that there can always be overreaching by the police. However, aliens in this country are already required I believe to have their papers allowing them to be in the country on their person at all times. My mother, before she became a naturalized citizen, always kept her papers in her purse. In regard to people who are already citizens, most people I assume would have documents on them to establish citizenship. Looking in my wallet I have my voter registration card, my attorney registration card and various other forms of identification. I wouldn’t consider showing these to the police any more onerous than the showing to them of my driver’s license.

  • I don’t see why leftwingers are getting so angry by this new law. All it does is give police the right to ask people to present their immigration documents. In nearly all places on earth that is thoroughly fine. Why is that some outrage in The USA?

  • OH YEA, GIVE THEM ALL THEIR RIGHTS AS HUMANS, GIVE THEM THE MASS IN THEIR LANGUAGE AND GIVE THEM THE TRAINING AND THE JOBS BUT ME A US CITIZEN WHO ONLY SPEAKS ENGLISH AND IS UNEMPLOYED FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE AGE OF 57 CAN’T GET A JOB BECAUSE I DO NOT SPEAK SPANISH AND ENGLISH . SO BY NOT MAKING IT A LAW TO LEARN ENGLISH AND SPEAK ENGLISH, THE PERSON WHO WORKS IN THE DOCTORS OFFICE HAS TO SPEAK BOTH LANGUAGES TO TAKE CARE OF FREE OF CHARGE OR CHARGE THE GOV. FOR THEIR HEALTH, THEIR HOUSING, THEIR EDUCATION, THEIR FOOD STAMPS, AND THEN THEY DRIVE AROUND WITHOUT LICENSES AND INSURANCE. BUT THAT IS OK, WE ARE SUPPOSE TO TAKE CARE OF ALL THE POOR, BUUL CRAP…IT IS A SYSTEM GONE WRONG AND CHRIST HIMSELF WOULD TELL YOU THE SAME THING. THESE PEOPLE COME HERE BECAUSE WE GIVE THEM EVERYTHING AND WE WON’T HAVE ANY MONEY LEFT TOTAKE CARE OF THEM MUCH LESS OURSELVES. SO KEEP IT UP..THE BISHOPS CAN TAKE THEM IN THEIR HOMES.

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