What is Arizona's Immigration Law?
There have been a lot of stories in the news and inflammatory language about the Arizona state law SB 1070. Many immigrants who have not yet gone through the legalization process worry that they are now at greater risk for being deported and others worry that many people’s legal rights are going to be infringed. While these are legitimate concerns, the actual impact of the law may not be as big as either side thinks.
Origins of Arizona SB 1070
As one of the states bordering Mexico, Arizona has a large immigrant population, both legal and illegal, as well as many residents with Hispanic ancestry whose families have been American citizens for generations. The failure to great a secure border with Mexico led to a great increase in illegal immigration during the construction boom and economic good times that occurred before the collapse of the last several years. Illegal immigrants send their kids to school, access government services, and commit crimes, just like the rest of the population. The Arizona state law was an attempt by Arizona legislators to begin to control a situation that was getting very expensive for the state because the federal government did not seem to be very interested in enforcing immigration law. While this may look racist to some, to others it has more economic origins. In difficult times, shouldn’t government services go to citizens instead?
Provisions of the Law
The most controversial provision is the right of officers to request proof of legal status if someone detained for another reason is suspected of being illegal. No one can be questioned simply because they are ‘walking down the street while being Mexican.’ A reasonable suspicion of other illegal activity has to exist. Will people’s legal rights be violated? Most adults carry their driver’s license with them all the time. If someone has gone through the legalization process, he would probably carry his residency permit with him as proof of his status.
Actual Impact of the Law
The Arizona state law gives officers the right and the duty to check the immigration status of people associated with a stop that was made for other reasons. Only time will tell if the legalization of this law will cause widespread violation of legal rights, as some insist it will. The other question is whether federal officials will bother to carry out deportations of non-violent illegals. It may end up being an expensive political fight with little actual impact.