Further Analysis of Arizona’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

I have previously written about the Arizona law and want to update my thoughts since the AZ legislature amended the statute.  The hue and cry continues, even by those who either don’t understand it, or haven’t bothered to consider the big picture (like the entire U.S.), or (sadly) have not even read the law. The focus here is on some of the changes to the law.  There is a great source of the text including red-lining of the changes.

Arizona’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Law

There has been a great outcry in the press and on the internet about the terrible new anti-illegal immigrant law signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.  The sad reality is that very few people on both sides of the issue have actually read the new law, but their ignorance of the law does not stop them from making statements about  it.

This post is part 1 of 5 posts that contain the entire text of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, (aka SB 1070) as as revised by House Bill 2162 (aka HB 2162) on April 30, 2010.  The new illegal immigration law / anti-immigrant law becomes law on July 29, 2010.   Deletions to text made by HB 2162 are show in red text that is lined out and new language is this color and underlined.

via Text of Arizona’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Law – Part 1 | KEYTLaw.

The essence of SB 1070 is that law enforcement refrain from NOT enforcing existing federal law.  Put more directly, law enforcement is supposed to enforce all existing laws, federal, state and local.  Hardly a unique thought since every oath of a public official and law enforcement or military officer that I’ve ever seen includes the obligation to “protect and defend the Constitution and law of the United States and of this state … from enemies foreign and domestic.”

A criticism often voiced was that “contact” with a citizen could lead to investigation of immigration status. AZ has made a strong change in  Section 11-1051 thusly:

B.  For any lawful contact stop, detention or arrest made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state in the enforcement of any other law or ordinance of a county, city or town or this state. . . .

By limiting the investigation trigger to a “stop, detention or arrest” puts the immigration inquiry on the same footing as the other information gathering done in any such circumstance.

An further in part B the anti-profiling provision is strengthened, as in

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection

Critics complain “but the cops will profile anyway” but that complaint is a red herring because that potential issue always exists. I suggest that there has to be a degree of trust in our officers, but even if you distrust them, it’s not a unique argument that should sway against this one law, of many.

Let’s put the situation in context. A person has been stopped, detained or arrested. Those are circumstances subject to volumes of cases, including the U.S. Supreme Court, about when, and how, and for how long a person is subjected to one of those varying degrees of restriction on their freedom.  Either we allow a person to be “stopped, detained or arrested” in the enforcement of laws or we simply abandon enforcing the laws of the nation and states.

So the person has been stopped, detained or arrested according to existing law and procedures, and will simply be asked to identify.  That is accomplished

. . . if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:

1.  A valid Arizona driver license.
2.  A valid Arizona nonoperating identification license.
3.  A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.
4.  If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification. . . .

How hard is that? It’s what any of us would have to produce if stopped, detained or arrested. And note the relevant provision of existing federal law regarding ID:

“Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.” 8 USC section 1304(e)

Thus it is no imposition on the registered alien to produce what he is already required to have on his person.

Other sections of the law relate to various offenses such as trespassing, smuggling, employment and in every section is included the following provision:

A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not consider race, color or national origin in the enforcement of this section except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona constitution.

Yes, skeptics will make light of that but it’s the best that can be done in the face of extraordinary circumstances of need, and there is ample existing law to govern actions in the AZ enforcement of their laws.

The final point is that while pundits (and bloggers) across the nation decry Arizona’s groundbreaking efforts, the problem of illegal immigration is not simply a border problem.  Folks in the midwest and Eastern seaboard would do well to consider that fact.