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April 14, 2010

Arizona's New Illegal Immigration Law

Yesterday, the Arizona House of Representatives passed a tough law cracking down on illegal aliens and their employers. A similar bill had already passed the Senate, so it's on its way to Governor Brewer's desk after a few corrections.

The bill has plenty to commend it. It prohibits localities from enacting rules to prevent the enforcement of immigration laws, like Los Angeles' infamous Special Order 40. It also prohibits them from withholding from other agencies or the federal government information relating to the immigration status of individuals.

It makes an alien's failure to carry an immigration document on their person a state crime (in addition to the federal crime) and imposes additional penalties for repeat offenders and offenders with a range of aggravating factors like gun or drug possession or prior removal orders.

The law makes it a crime to solicit work as a day laborer or to hire day laborers.

The provision that split the police union from the police chief's association has less to recommend it:

Requires officials and agencies to reasonably attempt to determine the immigration status of a person involved in a lawful contact where reasonable suspicion exists regarding the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.

Criminals already prey on illegal aliens, particularly because illegals often live in high-crime areas and belong to high-crime income groups (they're poor). Do you know the quickest way to make an already crime-prone group have more crime? Make them afraid to have contact with the police.

Sure, the law says "except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation." I doubt that's going to reassure anyone and it makes all non-investigatory contacts with the police suspect. What about an alien battered spouse who wants to call the cops on her husband? What about United States citizens who are afraid to report crimes because of their illegal alien parents?

I have no problem with the police checking on the immigration status of arrestees and maybe even criminal suspects. But sending them after folks who have lawful contact with the police will lead to more crime and more victims. And it won't solve the illegal alien problem.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:52 AM

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