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7:53 AM Tue, Oct. 23rd

AZ immigration law draws fire

KINGMAN - Arizona's new immigration law has certainly struck a national and international nerve. Civil rights groups, cities, legislators and whole states across the nation are asking for boycotts on Arizona businesses.

The Mexican consulate has issued a travel warning for Mexican citizens visiting the state. A Roman Catholic cardinal has compared the law to Nazism. President Barack Obama has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the legality of the law.

In Arizona, movements to repeal the law and lawsuits were considered before it even reached the books. The law goes into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

Opponents of the law claim it encourages racial profiling by law enforcement officers and that only the federal government has the authority to regulate immigration.

Supporters of the law say it's an attempt to fix a problem the federal government has neglected that threatens the safety of Arizona residents.

But what does Senate Bill 1070 actually say?

According to the Arizona Legislature's Web site, the bill states "for any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official ... where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.

"Any person who is arrested shall have the person's immigration status determined before the person is released. The person's immigration status shall be verified with the federal government pursuant to 8 United States code section 1373(c).

"A law enforcement official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution."

According to Arizona Sen. Ron Gould, this means that a law enforcement officer cannot pull someone over because they look Hispanic. Being in the state illegally is a secondary offense. A person has to be pulled over for something else, he said. For example, running a red light. An officer also has to have a reasonable suspicion that a person is in the U.S. illegally before they can ask for proof of the person's immigration status, Gould said.

Opponents of the law believe that some officers will look for the smallest infractions in order to pull someone over to check their immigration status.

Gov. Jan Brewer has said that she would not tolerate racial profiling.

She has also issued an executive order directing the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board to develop training to appropriately implement SB 1070, and she asked the board to make recommendations on possible improvements to the bill before the end of the year.

According to the bill, "a person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following: A valid Arizona driver's license; a valid Arizona identification card; a valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification; an ID, if the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance; any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification."

An Arizona license or ID is considered proof of legal status because the Legislature passed a bill in 2004 requiring residents applying for a state license or ID to prove legal status in the U.S., Gould said.

The new law also states, "An alien's immigration status may be determined by a law enforcement officer who is authorized by the federal government to verify or ascertain an alien's immigration status or the United States immigration and customs enforcement or the United States customs and border protection pursuant to 8 United States Code section 1373(c)."

Many supporters of the bill say the new law doesn't really change how law enforcement officers work. Legal immigrants are required to show proof of legal residency before they can get a job or apply for school in the states.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site, "A green card is issued to all permanent residents as proof that they are authorized to live and work in the United States. If you are a permanent resident age 18 or older, you are required to have a valid green card in your possession at all times."

According to SB 1070, a violation of the new law is a class 1 misdemeanor offense and $500 fine. Each subsequent violation doubles the amount of the fine. A violation of the new law becomes a class 3 felony if the person is also caught while in possession of dangerous drugs; chemicals used to manufacture meth; a deadly weapon; or materials that could be used in a terrorist attack.

But checking immigration status is not the only provision in the new law.

The law also allows a legal resident of the state to sue government officials or agencies who they feel are not enforcing the law.

The law also prohibits Arizona employers from hiring a day laborer if doing so stops or slows traffic in an area. It makes it illegal for someone to solicit a job for the day if doing so stops or slows traffic.

It also makes it a class 1 misdemeanor for an illegal immigrant to apply for, solicit work or work in the state.

It also makes it a class 1 misdemeanor for someone to knowingly hide, harbor, transport or entice an illegal immigrant to come to Arizona. According to the law, a person transporting an illegal immigrant can have their vehicle confiscated and be charged $1,000. If the violation involves 10 or more illegal immigrants, it becomes a class 6 felony and the offender can be fined $1,000 for each illegal immigrant. All fines are to be deposited in a special fund for the Arizona Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission.

The law also requires employers to keep a record of an employee's legal status on file for the duration of the person's employment or three years, whichever is longer.

It also prohibits law enforcement agencies, cities, counties and other government entities from not sharing or maintaining records dealing with a person's immigration status with another government entity. More details of the bill can be found at www.azleg.gov.

Edicts, Boycotts and Threats

• St. Paul, Minn. Mayor Chris Coleman and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have put a ban on all publicly funded travel to Arizona.

• U.S. Rep. Paul Grijalva from Arizona and Rep. Joe Bacca from California have called for a boycott on all Arizona businesses.

• Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and the Tucson and Flagstaff city councils are considering lawsuits.

• The Pima County Sheriff has stated he will not enforce the law.

• California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has called for the state to cancel all contracts with Arizona businesses. The Associated Press estimates the state has contracts with more than 73 companies, which brings in more than $10.3 million into Arizona.

• San Francisco Supervisor David Campos has called for a citywide boycott.

• Officials in Los Angeles have called for a boycott and to end all contracts with Arizona businesses.

• Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned the law as discriminatory and warned relations between Mexico and Arizona would suffer.

• The Mexican state of Sonora will not attend the annual meeting it has with Arizona in June.

• La Opinion, Mexico's largest Spanish newspaper, has called for a boycott of Arizona businesses.

• A boycott of sports events involving Arizona teams such as the Diamondbacks has been called.