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Apr 23rd, 2010

Arizona Governor Signs Toughest Immigration Law

Bill removes ‘political handcuffs’ from police in dealing with illegal immigration, drug smuggling

Image: Protest at the Arizona Capitol
Brian Ochoa, left, and Gustavo Rocha, both from Phoenix, join hundreds of protesters as they rally at the Arizona Capitol on Friday, April 23, 2010 to protest the signing of an immigration bill by Gov. Jan Brewer. (Photo credit: Ross D. Franklin / AP)

April 23, 2010

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer ignored criticism from President Barack Obama on Friday and signed into law a bill supporters said would take handcuffs off police in dealing with illegal immigration in Arizona, the nation’s busiest gateway for human and drug smuggling from Mexico.

With hundreds of protesters outside the state Capitol shouting that the bill would lead to civil rights abuses, Brewer said critics were “overreacting” and that she wouldn’t tolerate racial profiling.

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said after signing the law. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

Earlier Friday, Obama called the Arizona bill “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it’s legal. He also said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level – or leave the door open to “irresponsibility by others.” …

The legislation, sent to the Republican governor by the GOP-led Legislature, makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants, allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

The law sends “a clear message that Arizona is unfriendly to undocumented aliens,” said Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor and author of the book “Beyond Citizenship: American Identity After Globalization.” …

Immigration bill ‘misguided,’ Obama says (NBC Nightly News, April 23, 2010) – Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart reports. (02:47)

The bill will take effect in late July or early August, and Brewer ordered the state’s law enforcement licensing agency to develop a training course on how to implement it without violating civil rights.

“We must enforce the law evenly, and without regard to skin color, accent, or social status,” she said. “We must prove the alarmists and the cynics wrong.”

Brewer, who faces a tough election battle and growing anger in the state over illegal immigrants, said the law “protects every Arizona citizen.”

‘Political handcuffs’

Anti-immigrant anger has swelled in the past month, after rancher Rob Krentz was found dead on his land north of Douglas, near the Mexico border. Authorities believe he was fatally shot by an illegal immigrant possibly connected to a drug smuggling cartel.

Arizona has an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants, and its harsh, remote desert serves as the corridor for the majority of illegal immigrants and drugs moving north into the U.S. from Mexico. …

The bill’s Republican sponsor, state Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, said Obama and other critics of the bill were “against law enforcement, our citizens and the rule of law.”

Pearce said the legislation would remove “political handcuffs” from police and help drive illegal immigrants from the state.

“Illegal is illegal,” said Pearce. “We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.”



Governor Hopeful Emmer Calls Arizona Immigration Law ‘Wonderful’

The Associated Press via St. Cloud Times
April 29, 2010

ST. PAUL — One of Minnesota’s leading GOP candidates for governor applauded Arizona’s strict new law against illegal immigration on Wednesday, calling the crackdown “a wonderful first step.”

State Rep. Tom Emmer said he supports Arizona’s efforts to make immigrants prove their immigration status and require police to probe if they have “reasonable suspicion” a person is an illegal immigrant. He made the comments in a debate with his chief rival, Rep. Marty Seifert, broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio.

“We have certain immigration laws in this country, and when you have laws and you have a civil society that is based on the rule of law, you enforce the law,” Emmer said. …

Seifert didn’t directly endorse Arizona’s law but said that state is moving in the right direction.

“In concept, I think that they’re moving in the right direction of trying to get control of the situation, which is out of control,” Seifert said of the Arizona law after the debate. “I think most people agree with that.”

Later Wednesday, he unveiled a list of immigration positions that stopped short of Arizona-style measures. It said he would work to end local policies barring police from inquiring about immigration status, let local law enforcement get training to enforce immigration laws, work with federal authorities to deport illegal immigrants who are caught and require government agencies to check the immigration status of welfare recipients.

Seifert said he modeled his proposal on laws in Oklahoma, which passed a tough immigration law in 2007, and other states.

Outgoing GOP Gov. Tim Pawlenty has pushed for tougher immigration laws with little success since 2006. Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled Legislature has rejected proposals to require police to turn over illegal immigrants to federal authorities and other measures.

Both Emmer and Seifert said they would like to make driver’s licenses and state identification cards display a person’s citizenship status.

Emmer said he has tried for five years to pass bills that would require voters to show photo IDs before voting. One of the earlier versions would have made candidates for office provide proof of citizenship.

Seifert sponsored legislation to block illegal immigrants from getting college aid.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — April 23, 2009

Image: Iraqi woman weeps at the site of a suicide attack
Shanoon Humoud, 70, sat weeping amid burned food packages scattered on the ground at the site of a suicide attack in Baghdad, April 23, 2009. Her husband, son, and two grandchildren were killed in the blast. (Photo credit: Ali Abbas / EPA)

Scores Killed in Iraq Attacks

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that suicide bombers struck a humanitarian aid distribution point and a crowded restaurant in separate attacks in Iraq, killing at least 78 people.

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