Arizona’s Immigration Law
Yesterday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a controversial immigration bill, the text of which you can find here (PDF). Now, before getting into the bill itself, et me just say I’m not an open-borders guy. The sheer mass of illegal immigration is a problem in the southern border states. If you’re interested, I went into more detail a few years ago on the subject.
The law itself provides for the following:
- Makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal alien to solicit work in any way shape or form, so no more hanging out around Home Depot.
- Makes it a code violation to knowingly employ illegal aliens, and may subject the business to suspension or terminations of any and all licenses, i.e. business license, liquor license, etc.
- No jurisdiction in the state can refuse to enforce immigration laws.
- Illegal aliens are considered to be trespassing if found on any public or private property in the state of Arizona. I.e., physically present anywhere in the state. It’s a class I misdemeanor. If the illegal alien has drugs or money in his possession, that bumps the charge to a Class 3 felony.
- A person may be arrested on the spot for this extended offense of trespassing if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is an illegal alien.
- A peace officer may stop any person operating a motor vehicle if the officer reasonably believes the vehicle is being used to transport or smuggle illegal aliens.
- A vehicle used to knowingly transport illegal aliens is subject to mandatory immobilization or impoundment.
I saw a statement by an Arizona police spokesman at Tucson PD that said, essentially, that this new law would never, ever be used by peace officers in racial profiling. And you can believe as much of that as you please. If you think the cops in AZ will be rounding up blue-eyed, blond-haired fellows who say “aboot” instead of “about”, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. It connects Manhattan with Brooklyn. It’s in great shape. Worth every penny.
Essentially, if you’re a swarthy, dark-haired gentleman, the cops can stop you and ask for your papers. You should probably obtain a copy of your birth certificate, Social Security card, and Sons of the American Revolution membership certificate, and keep them with you at all times. And lose the attractive Ricardo Montalban accent, because that’s certainly not going to be an asset when speaking to the nice officer.
And if you do pick up a few day workers at Lowe’s, don’t be surprised when the cops stop you, then laugh at your insistence that you just wanted some weeding done or nice raised garden installed, and insist on calling you “Mr. Coyote” as they impound your vehicle and drag your ass off to jail.
I really don’t see how this law can pass Constitutional muster. It practically requires racial profiling. It will almost inevitably lead to civil rights violations of both lawful immigrants and American citizens, as police officers demand proof of citizenship, and subsequently arrest some poor sap who left his wallet at home. It’s just a disastrously bad law.
Now look, I understand that illegal immigration is a tough problem. I believe that we do need to better secure the borders. I know the Feds do little more than lip service at enforcing immigration laws. So, I understand why state government are frustrated, and grasping at something else they can do to ease the budgetary, law enforcement, and social service strains that illegal immigration puts on state and municipal budgets.
But this sort of state effort is so intrusive and far-reaching, and so ripe for abuse, that it can’t possibly be the right answer to the problem. I see no way that it can be enforced in a manner consistent with basic civil rights. It’s just a bad law.