>My take on Arizona’s new immigration law

Anti-immigration activists and xenophobes alike are praising Arizona’s new immigration law, which was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday. It requires immigrants to carry their registration papers on them at all times and requires police officers to question immigrants if there’s a reason to believe they’ve entered the country illegally. It also targets people who knowingly hire illegal day laborers or transport them. Gov. Brewer also issued an executive order which requires training for officers on how to carry out the law without resorting to racial profiling.

“This training will include what does and does not constitute reasonable suspicion that a person is not legally present in the United States,” Brewer said after signing the bill.

“Racial profiling is illegal. It is illegal in America, and it’s certainly illegal in Arizona,” Brewer said. The rules, to be established in by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board, are due back to her in May. The law goes into effect 90 days after the close of the legislative session, which has not been determined. 

As I read CNN’s story and analyze the reaction of those who support the bill, it seems like this law will serve as a Band-Aid to the elephant (no pun intended, Republicans) in the room: the need for comprehensive immigration reform and more comprehensive border security. It doesn’t cover up the fact that this country has long turned its back on reforming immigration because of its volatile nature. Both Republicans and Democrats have refused to initiate the change needed in the system.

Also, what happens when the immigrants don’t have any papers on them? Are they taken to the local jail? Are they deported? Will that prevent them from coming back? The legislation doesn’t seem to have much teeth when it’s examined closely? So, what the purpose?

It’s clear that the bill’s sole purpose is to instill fear and intimidation into the state’s Hispanic/Latino population. It’s clear to me or anyone with a bran that this law will lead to racial profiling and discrimination. I don’t understand how “training” will help officers not racial profile as we all know this bill is aimed at the Hispanic/Latino population. I highly doubt these officers will inquire about the legal status of those who don’t have brown or black skin.

Furthermore, who will pay for the additional training these officers are required to undergo? Is Arizona swimming in a sea of money they can pour into local police departments? Will this be yet another unfunded state mandate many local entities are used to seeing from their respective legislatures?

Some of the supporters of this law also pointed to the rising crime and murders the southern portion of the state has seen in recent years.

Its leading sponsor, state Sen. Russell Pearce, said this week, “Illegal is not a race; it’s a crime.” 

“We’re going to take the handcuffs off of law enforcement. We’re going to put them on the bad guy,” said Pearce, a Republican. 

Fellow Republican state Sen. Frank Antenori said the biggest reason he supported the bill was because a rancher in one of the counties he represents was murdered by someone who crossed the U.S. border with Mexico illegally. He said the person of interest in the killing had crossed the border numerous times and cited other similar violent crimes.

“The citizens of this state are tired of the catch and release that is going on by the federal government where they grab people, they process them, and they take them back and drop them on the other side of the border,” Antenori said. “They just come back, and we have no border security down here.”

If these people are worried about crime, then what’s wrong with adequately funding the first line of defense: police departments? What’s wrong with creating initiatives/grants that will help local departments hire more officers to protect their streets? Do these politicians not understand that, with the decrease in local revenue many jurisdictions are seeing, they are unable to fully protect the citizens from crime?

This law isn’t about protecting the streets and citizens of Arizona. This law isn’t about comprehensive immigration reform. It’s not about protecting Arizona’s borders.

It’s about creating an invisible class of people who will have to live in fear of the people who are hired to protect and serve them. 

What do you think of the law?