Arizona Law Promises to Be ‘Toughest’ on Illegal Immigration

Russell Goldman, ABC News, March 26, 2010

A bill empowering police to arrest illegal immigrants and charge them with trespassing for simply being in the state of Arizona, is likely just weeks away from becoming the toughest law of its kind anywhere in the country.

Already passed by the state’s Senate and currently being reconciled with a similar version in the House, the bill would essentially criminalize the presence of the 460,000 illegal immigrants living in the state.

The measure allows police to detain people on the suspicion that they are illegal immigrants, outlaws citizens from employing day laborers, and makes it illegal for anyone to transport an illegal immigrant, even a family member, anywhere in the state.

The bill’s supporters say a local crackdown has become a necessity because the federal government has failed to adequately seal the borders or actively enforce its laws. They blame Arizona’s spiraling crime and unemployment rates on its large population of illegal immigrants.

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Immigrant rights groups believe the bill, especially the trespassing provision, will further burden the already stretched-thin resources of local law enforcement agencies, result in hassles of U.S. citizens, and encourage cops to arrest and charge people based on racial profiling.

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Pearce said he “was not advocating roundups.” By creating a law that “eliminates all sanctuary policies,” illegal immigrants–unable to work, travel or even be present in the state–would ultimately “leave on their own.”

The senator argues the state law puts teeth in federal laws already on the books, by turning misdemeanors, like employing day laborers, into felonies.

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[J.D. Hayworth, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate said,] “Simply stated, we need to give law enforcement officers the tools to do their jobs. Border security is national security and it’s time to take handcuffs off law enforcement and put them on criminals who break our laws.”

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