April 20th, 2010
07:08 AM ET
12 years ago

Arizona lawmakers OK controversial immigration bill

(CNN) - The Arizona state Senate on Monday passed an extensive immigration bill that is widely considered to be some of the toughest immigration legislation in the nation, requiring police officers to determine whether a person is in the United States legally.

Currently, officers can only take that route if a person is suspected in another crime. Critics, including immigrant advocates and the ACLU of Arizona, are concerned the new law will foster racial profiling, arguing that most police officers don't have enough training to look past race while investigating a person's legal status.

The Senate passed the bill in a 17-11 vote Monday. The bill was approved in a House vote last week and awaits the signature of Gov. Jan Brewer. Supporters of the measure expect her to sign it.

Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce, who authored the bill, told CNN in a recent interview that, with the bill, "We're going to take the handcuffs off of law enforcement, we're going to put them on the bad guy. Illegal is not a race, it's a crime."

"You know, this is amazing to me. We trust officers, we put guns on them, they make life and death decisions every day," he added. "They investigate capital crimes, they investigate sophisticated crimes, but we're afraid they're going to pick up the phone and call ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)."

The tough rhetoric has angered immigration advocates, such as Isabel Garcia, an Arizona legal defender, who says the legislation "legalizes racial profiling."

"I think this bill represents the most dangerous precedent in this country, violating all of our due process rights," she told CNN's Tony Harris. "We have not seen this kind of legislation since the Jim Crow laws. And targeting our communities, it is the single most largest attack on our communities."

The measure would require immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times. It also requires police to question people if there's reason to suspect they're undocumented and targets those who hire illegal immigrant day laborers or knowingly transport them.

The Senate's Democratic leadership slammed Monday's vote, saying the bill doesn't truly address Arizona's real immigration problems.

Senate Bill 1070 "is exactly why the federal government must act on immigration reform," said Democratic leader Jorge Luis Garcia in a written statement. "We cannot have states creating a jigsaw puzzle of immigration laws. This bill opens the doors to racial profiling with the provision that allows an officer to ask for citizenship papers from someone who only looks illegal."

The bill is an unfunded mandate that is "turning police officers into ICE agents and opening department to lawsuits allowed by this bill," added Sen. Rebecca Rios.

Rios was referring to a provision in the bill that allows for residents to sue their local governments if they feel the law isn't being enforced effectively.

According to Phoenix press, the governor, who has not taken a public stance on the bill, on Sunday told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that, "I will assure you that I will do what I believe is the right thing so that everyone is treated fairly."

But to those on both sides of the bill, that means two completely different things.

- CNN's Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Jay

    Let's face it folks, it's time to give Arizona back to Mexico.

    April 20, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  2. Jin

    Perhaps a well intended piece of legislation, but very bad law for our democracy. Ask this legislator what happens when Canadians are sought as illegals.

    April 20, 2010 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  3. ConsDemo

    "Rios was referring to a provision in the bill that allows for residents to sue their local governments if they feel the law isn't being enforced effectively. "

    So, some right-wing socialist who is upset at company X for not offering him a job paying far more than he is worth will sue the cops because he sees the company employees "Mexicans"? This sounds like a recipe for idiocy!

    April 20, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. Darryl

    In times like these you need to enact harsh immigration law to combat illegal immigration.

    April 20, 2010 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  5. Tim from Tampa

    Not tough enough. What part of "illegal" is so hard to understand? The bill should call for immediate deportation if they can't show I.D. Aren't laws supposedly written for the "greater good"?

    April 20, 2010 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  6. Seattle Sue

    I would hate to be a Mexican living in Arizona. Is this the way it started for the Jews in Germany?

    April 20, 2010 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. Mike in NYC

    "Looking past race" means ignoring the fact that the vast majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanic.

    Garcia hits all the required angles here - "targeting," "profiling," "attack," "Jim Crow." Really, it’s time to get another script, hermana.

    April 20, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Michael I Minnesota

    The federal Government has NOT been doing its duty , we have had 30 years since Reagan granted the ONE time amnesty and yet they can actually protest on the streets and fluant there illegal status
    the USA does not have the resources to to acomidate 12 million low skilled people that have no chance of NIOT being burden

    Good for AZ

    April 20, 2010 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. Bill NY

    Doggone right! Nobody can come here and kill the inhabitants and steal the land but us! Who cares if at some point in time this was a part of Mexico! We killed them off fair and square! The south is rising agin!

    April 20, 2010 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  10. TW

    It astounds me that people are trying to block this very strong Illegal ALIEN bill,
    The right thing is to ship each and ever illegal Alien back to whatever Country they called home, to verify it just find out where they mail their illegal earnings.

    April 20, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  11. Ben in Texas

    Arizona is saying to undocumented workers, "You came here and built the houses, worked in the restaurants, cleaned the toilets, mowed the lawn, all for cheap wages. Thanks a heap. Now we consider you criminals, and we'll harass everybody who has a dark tan (which in Arizona, is a lot of people) to make sure we weed out all you criminals who brought prosperity and cheap labor to Arizona."

    Why is it that the only solutions conservatives ever propose involve force?

    April 20, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  12. deb0155

    Kudos to the Arizona State Senate! They are finally taking the reigns and protecting the American people! There are too many incidents of murder and other crimes occuring due to illegals coming across the border.

    It's about time that somewhere in this country – the law will be upheld in spite of "political correctness." It is policitcal correctness that is bringing down this country!

    April 20, 2010 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  13. Rush is to far left

    Good! Now the rest of America needs to follow suit. Which part of the word "illegal" is not understood. Send all illegals and their anchor babies back to whatever country they came from. That would go a long way toward solving our economic problems. Illegals from whatever country, do not have due process rights. They have NO rights at all.

    April 20, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  14. Phil

    This should have been done years ago. People seem to only be worried about terrorists entering our country. What about all the illegal immigrants who have committed murder and other crimes. Now with the war in Juarez and other parts of Mexico, its even more important to keep our borders secure.

    April 20, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. Kathy

    I live in Arizona and wonder what would be considered proof of citizenship for a person who looks Mexican but was born in this country. Drivers license? SS card? Either of these can already be obtained illegally. I smell a US Supreme Court case if the governor signs this legislation.

    April 20, 2010 09:45 am at 9:45 am |