As discussed in a prior post on this blog, the Arizona legislature has recently passed what is being called the strictest anti-illegal immigration bill in the nation. Supporters say the new law steps in to help the state control immigration since the federal government has failed to do so. Opponents say the Arizona bill will do nothing but encourage racial profiling by local law enforcement who will be required to question the status of anyone they have reason to believe is in the country illegally. Last Friday, President Obama weighed in with his opinion of the bill (now law).
According to CNN, during a White House naturalization ceremony for some members of the armed forces, the President spoke about how he believes the Arizona bill would negatively effect the rights of people in that state. "In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation," the President said.
However, President Obama acknowledged it was the failure of the federal government to supply a cohesive and effective immigration policy that engendered actions like the Arizona bill. Regardless, the President called the action, "misguided."
CNN reports that under current law, police are only required to question a person regarding immigration status if they are a suspect in a crime. The new bill would require police to request alien resident papers from any person they have reason to suspect may be in the country illegally. It is this requirement that has immigrant advocates fearing an upsurge in racial profiling, with some experts saying most police officers don't have enough training to look past race while investigating a person's legal status.
One more portion of the bill, could also have far-reaching legal consequences. Under the proposed law, individuals who feel state government agencies are hindering immigration enforcement may bring suit. The results of the potential strain on the system by a flood of citizen lawsuits will most likely slow, not improve, local law enforcement of existing immigration laws.